In a blunt statement, the results from the Venezuelan popular consultation on July 16th is that the Opposition sent a clear message to power about their commitment to democracy, stripping accusations that the coalition of opposition political parties (MUD) is taking shortcuts or calling the military to depose president Nicolas Maduro to restore democracy. In a very short time (less than two weeks) the MUD organized the consultation process without having any access to public resources, in an entirely collective effort from Venezuelan society, registering a participation of more than 7.600.000 citizens living in Venezuela and abroad. The expectations were diverse, but the outcome was not a surprise, rather a confirmation of the democratic values and principles Venezuelans are standing for in these turbulent times.
Amid the perception of a no-way-out situation for the Opposition, and the country itself, much of the agenda being carried out by the MUD has been in response to the regime’s actions to advance in the consolidation of an authoritarian system. In the next two weeks, the Opposition will have to speed up the pressure on Maduro in an effort to avert his determination to redraft a new constitution. The Opposition is constantly reminding the military their role in supporting the tragedy the country is undergoing, demanding them to stop using repression against the people and start respecting the Constitution.
There seems to be a stalemate situation for a resolution: the regime is unable to accept that the Constituent Assembly call has more than 80% of rejection, and on the other side, the Opposition is not backtracking in their defense of the Constitution. The circumstances are appalling in terms of the humanitarian context; if there were a definitive collapse of the government there are no capabilities for a massive response. The most disturbing aspect of the situation is that with the widespread violence it could certainly get out of control even for the armed forces, that at the moment seem to be in alliance with the militias.
The best-case scenario, a more hopeful one, is that a negotiation leading to Maduro abandoning power, after designating a new vice president accorded with all political forces (including former chavistas now in dissent) would be the beginning of a transition to democracy. Although a key obstacle for this scenario is the military, the main source of support for Maduro and his regime, the Opposition is insisting in criticizing their role in this crisis and reminding them their duty to abide by the Constitution. If there is any chance for Venezuela and their people to recover democracy and peace, it depends on the military and their will to stop giving support to Maduro’s assault on the constitutional framework. No one is asking for a coup or a savior, just a way out for the people and the opportunity for them to restore democracy.