Venezuelan experts: President Chávez must take office next January 10
A group of Venezuelan constitutionalists rejected ruling party Diosdado Cabello's proposal, aimed at postponing the date reelected President Hugo Chávez is to take office for presidential term 2013-2019
"Everything provided for in the Constitution is acceptable, out of the Constitution, it is not." These have been the words uttered by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez for years to reject several proposals put forward by dissenters, entrepreneurs, and scholars to deal with some of the problems arising along the way. Today, these words are being used by Chávez's foes to decisively dismiss suggestions over the possibility of postponing the date (January 10) the Venezuelan president is to take office for presidential term 2013-2019 so as to allow him to recover from his fourth surgery in one and a half year.
Constitutionalists Enrique Sánchez Falcón and Gustavo Linares Benzo, as well as the Criminal Court of Cassation's Magistrate, Blanca Rosa Mármol de León, have remarked that the suggestion made by ruling party Deputy Diosdado Cabello to put off the aforementioned date is not possible.
"January 10 is certainly a critical day, but considering the fact that everything may be altered under unexpected circumstances, that date can be changed. This may only be possible under serious circumstances, which shall be duly explained," said Sánchez adding that "in the event that the president needs to get an urgent surgery or suffers an accident, the event may be postponed. This is not the case, though. It has been more than one year since Chávez got sick. We are not dealing here with any sudden event. This is about a clear incapability to take office."
Likewise, Linares Benzo says that if Chávez is unable to take office next January 10 at the National Assembly, his full absence shall be announced and the chair of the assembly shall hold office. A new presidential election shall be hold, accordingly.
However, Linares noted that if the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice ( TSJ) is requested to rule on this matter, the ceremony scheduled for next January 10 is very likely to be put off considering that said body "has never ruled against the Government." In any case, the constitutionalist warned, "The date for the ceremony must not remain unknown. It will have to be set, eventually.
Meanwhile, Magistrate Marmol León says that the materialization of Cabello's proposal will imply a violation of Venezuela's Constitution.
Translated by Jhean Cabrera
Cristian Fonseca, a businessman in La Candelaria district downtown Caracas, was doing the accounts in his small shop office on Sunday December 21, 2008. The Christmas shopping season kept him working late hours into the night. It was around 11 p.m. and his phone rang. A friend broke the bad news to him over the telephone.