Venezuela: Chávez Coup Veterans Demand President Maduro Resign

Nicholas Maduro AP

A coalition of Venezuelan socialists that orchestrated the failed attempt to install Hugo Chávez as the nation’s head of state in 1992 are calling for the nation’s president, Nicolás Maduro, to step down, calling him an “autocratic” failure.

The men, known as veterans of the February 4, 1992 attempt to overthrow President Carlos Andrés Pérez and replace him with Chávez, write in an open letter that Maduro has destroyed the nation and betrayed the spirit of Chavista socialism, demanding he step down “if he definitively cannot meet the duties that the constitution mandates for him.” Venezuelan newspaper El Universal notes that the men argue Maduro has “de-virtued and disfigured” the ideas of the Bolivarian Revolution. The revolution, they write, “has become this chaos that represents everything contrary to the Constitution: an autocracy that has taken the nation to unthinkable levels of anarchy, anomaly, ochlocracy, and deinstitutionalization”:

The common citizen has become the victim of political and moral degeneration and its devastating effects: personal and judicial insecurity, impunity, hyperinflation, unemployment, loss of acquisition ability, hunger, poverty, and an extreme loss of quality of life… and the loss of the values that used to characterize our society.

The men are identified by name as Florencio Porras, Luis Eduardo Chacón, Ismael Pérez Sira, Carlos Guyón Celis, Alfieri Lameda Quero, Emiro Brito Valerion, Rafael Virgilio Delgado y Miguel Schmilinsky París, among others.

This latest attack from Maduro’s left follows rumors that the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) is looking for legal ways to take Maduro’s executive position from him and replace him with a more popular Chavista. In February, rumors began circulating that the Marxist Socialist Tide party, comprised of a number of former Chávez loyalists, will begin urging Maduro to resign soon. The head of Socialist Tide, Nicmer Evans, said this month that Maduro’s resignation would ““represent an ethical and exemplary exit because it would create conditions to articulate a Chavismo without trauma, preserve the body politic and make it easier to make decisions and transition.” Within the PSUV itself, which operates independently of Socialist Tide, it is an “open secret” that the leadership is dissatisfied with Maduro. Some even speculate that the PSUV has held talks with opposition leaders on how to most efficiently hasten Maduro’s removal.

Outside of the rumors suggesting Maduro has lost the support of his own party, formerly high-ranking members of Chávez’s government have openly begun speculating of the corruption within Maduro’s government. Former Chávez ministers Héctor Navarro, Ana Elisa Osorio, and Jorge Giordani announced in early February that they had found evidence that $300 billion was missing from the coffers of the federal oil corporation, the PDSVA, had gone missing in the past decade, with no record of how the money was spent. “There are advisors misguiding the president, with the intention of ending the revolution from the inside,” Navarro, who was expelled from the PSUV for criticizing Maduro, alleged.

There is even evidence that Maduro is losing the support of the violent unofficial street gangs that characterized his repressive crackdown on the anti-socialist opposition in 2014: the colectivos. According to the analysis corporation Stratfor, Maduro has increasingly lost control of these gangs, which he once used with ease to attack peaceful protests against his tenure. “Many colectivos are critical of corruption among the Chavista elite and have accused officials of lacking true revolutionary spirit. At the same time, several paramilitary colectivos have announced that they will fight for the ideals of Chavismo — even if it means going against Maduro,” Stratfor notes.