Ethics Probe for Trudeau And Legitimacy Problem for Guaido

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February 15, 2019

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By Countercurrents.org

Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, and an over-active participant in imperialist intervention in Venezuela, and Juan Guaido, the self-proclaimed “interim president” of Venezuela, and one of the leading proxies in the imperialist venture are facing serious problem. The problems of the two leaders are of two types. But the two are related to interference, and both of the cases are producing similar effect – the problem of credibility.

Media reports said:

Trudeau is being investigated for illegally attempting to shield SNC-Lavalin, a Montreal engineering firm, from criminal fraud and corruption charges. The case involves millions of dollars in bribes to members of government in Libya, a victim of imperialist intervention.

However, Trudeau has “welcomed” the probe. The Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner has launched the probe a few days ago. By that time, Trudeau has extended his interventionist role in Venezuela.

Two MPs from the New Democrat party made requests for the probe. Before the requests came, the Globe and Mail (G&M) carried a report on the issue last week.

According to the G&M report, the Canadian leader was at the heart of the case, which the Conservative opposition has termed an “unprecedented” effort to illegally influence a criminal proceeding. No law allows anyone to influence any criminal proceeding.

Trudeau, one of the leaders of the imperialist democratic world, allegedly pressured former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to curtail the criminal prosecution of a multi-million-dollar corruption and fraud case against SNC-Lavalin, redirecting the matter out of the courts, and into a “remediation agreement,” which would have spared the company the negative financial and reputational consequences of a criminal trial – the most devastating of which would include a 10-year ban from accepting government contracts, a stipulation which would economically cripple the firm.

When Wilson-Raybould refused to ask federal prosecutors to make the non-prosecution deal with SNC-Lavalin in December, according to the G&M, Trudeau essentially fired her, leaving her to wash up at Veterans Affairs, a significant demotion.

Trudeau denies the allegations. The Canadian leader claims: “Neither the current nor the previous attorney general was ever directed by me or anyone in my office to take a decision in this matter.”

Conservative Leader Albert Scheer said: “Obviously Justin Trudeau’s trying to hide something.”

SNC-Lavalin was charged with paying out $48 million in bribes to Libyan officials in the decade leading up to the NATO-led overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi’s government in 2011, payments intended to influence government decision-making, though the company was also charged with defrauding Libyan companies of about $130 million.

Intervention and corruption go hand-in-hand.

Problem of a proxy, Guaido

Roger D. Harris with the Campaign to End US/Canada Sanctions against Venezuela writes in “Juan Guaido: The Man Who Would Be President of Venezuela Doesn’t Have a Constitutional Leg to Stand On”:

Donald Trump, the U.S. President, imagines Guaido is the rightful president of Venezuela. But Guaido, a man of impeccable illegitimacy, was exposed by Dan Cohen and Max Blumenthal as “a product of a decade-long project overseen by Washington’s elite regime change trainers.”

Roger Harris refers to Argentinean sociologist Marco Teruggi, who described Guaido as “a character that has been created for this circumstance” of regime change.

These findings, writes Roger Harris, deconstruct Guaido’s constitutional credentials to be interim president of Venezuela.

Educated at George Washington University in Washington, DC, Guaido was unknown in Venezuela before thrusting in the active duty of a proxy warrior. A poll, conducted about a week ago, before Guaido appointed himself president of the country, 81% of Venezuelans had never even heard of the leader.

Roger Harris, also a board member for the 32-year-old anti-imperialist human rights organization Task Force on the Americas, informs:

US Vice President Pence phoned Guaido on the evening of January 22 and asked him how’d he like to be made president of Venezuela. The next day, Guaido announced that he considered himself president of Venezuela.

Only a few weeks before to that “historical” self-appointment, Guaido was selected as president of the country’s National Assembly. It was his party’s – Popular Will – turn for the presidency of the assembly.

He was elected to the assembly from a coastal area with 26% of the vote.

Guaido, even within his own party, was not in the top leadership.

Roger Harris, also an election observer in Venezuela for both of Maduro’s elections, most recently on a delegation with Venezuela Analysis and the Intrepid News Fun, writes:

“Popular Will, is a far-right marginal group whose most enthusiastic boosters are John Bolton, Elliott Abrams, and Mike Pompeo. Popular Will had adopted a strategy of regime change by extra-parliamentary means rather than engage with the democratic electoral process and had not participated in recent Venezuelan elections.”

Although anointed by Trump and company, writes Roger Harris, Popular Will is not representative of the “Venezuelan opposition,” a fractious bunch whose hatred of Maduro is only matched by their abhorrence of each other. Leading opposition candidate Henri Falcon, who ran against Maduro in 2018 on a neoliberal austerity platform, had been vehemently opposed by Popular Will. The party demanded that Falcon join their US-backed boycott of the election.

In the article, which was published in many alternative news and views outlets, Roger Harris informs:

Ultimas Noticias, a Venezuelan news outlet, reported that prominent opposition politician Henrique Capriles, who had run against Maduro in 2013, “affirmed during an interview that the majority of opposition parties did not agree with the self-swearing in of Guaido as interim president.”

Claudio Fermin, president of the party Solutions for Venezuela, wrote: “we believe in the vote, in dialogue, we believe in coming to an understanding, we believe Venezuelans need to part ways with the extremist sectors that only offer hatred, revenge, lynching.”

Key opposition governor of the State of Táchira, Laidy Gómez, has rejected Guaido’s support of intervention by the US, warning that it “would generate death of Venezuelans.”

The Guaido/Trump cabal does not reflect the democratic consensus in Venezuela, where polls consistently show super majorities oppose outside intervention. Popular opinion in Venezuela supports negotiations between the government and the opposition. The Maduro administration has embraced the negotiations as a peaceful solution to the crisis.

But the US government rejects a negotiated solution, in the words of Vice President Pence: “This is no time for dialogue; this is time for action.”

This intransigent position is faithfully echoed by Guaido. So while most Venezuelans want peace, the self-appointed president, backed by the full force of US military power, wrote in a New York Times op-ed that it was possible to “end the Maduro regime with a minimum of bloodshed.”

Roger Harris adds:

The Guaido/Trump cabal’s fig leaf for legitimacy is based on the bogus argument that Article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution gives the National Assembly the power to declare a national president’s “abandonment” of the office. In which case, the president of the National Assembly can serve as an interim national president, until presidential elections are held. The inconvenient truth is that Maduro has shown no inclination to abandon his post, and the constitution says no such thing.

In fact, the grounds for replacing a president are very clearly laid out in the first paragraph of Article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution and do not include fraudulent or illegitimate election, which is what the cabal has been claiming. In the convoluted logic of the US government and its epigones, if the people elect someone the cabal doesn’t like, the election is by definition fraudulent and the democratically elected winner is ipso facto a dictator.

The function of adjudicating the validity of an election, as in any country, is to be dealt with through court challenges, not by turning to Donald Trump for his approval. And certainly not by anointing an individual from a party that could have run in the 2018 election but decided to boycott.

The National Electoral Council (CNE), Venezuela’s separate electoral branch, has certified Maduro’s reelection, as have independent international observers. A transparent and redundant auditing process of the vote had been conducted at each polling station and all party representatives – including opposition ones – signed off on the validity of the process when the polls closed. Further, no appeal was filed by any of the boycotting parties, although Falcón – who ran – subsequently asserted irregularities in the process before the high court.

Maduro was sworn into office under Article 231 of the Venezuelan constitution before the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ), which is the separate high court branch of the Venezuelan government. The TSJ had previously found the National Assembly to be in judicial contempt under Article 336:7, because the assembly had sworn in three deputies temporarily suspended because of voting irregularities.

The far-right opposition has boycotted the high court as well as the electoral process. They contest the legitimacy of the TSJ because some members of the TSJ were appointed by a lame duck National Assembly favorable to Maduro, after a new National Assembly with a majority in opposition had been elected in December 2015 but not yet seated.

Even if President Maduro were somehow deemed to have experienced what is termed a falta absoluta (i.e., some sort of void in the presidency due to death, insanity, absence, etc.), the National Assembly president is only authorized to take over if the falta absoluta occurs before the lawful president “takes possession.” However, Maduro was already “in possession” before the January 10, 2019 presidential inauguration and even before the May 10, 2018 presidential election. Maduro had won the presidency in the 2013 election and ran and won reelection last May.

If the falta absoluta is deemed to have occurred during the first four years of the presidential term, the vice president takes over. Then the constitution decrees that a snap election for the presidency must be held within 30 days. This is what happened when President Hugo Chávez died while in office in 2013. Then Vice President Nicolas Maduro succeeded to the presidency, called for new elections, and was elected by the people of Venezuela.

If it is deemed that the falta absoluta occurred during the last two years of the six-year presidential term, the vice president serves until the end of the term, according to the Venezuelan constitution. And if the time of the alleged falta absoluta is unclear – when Maduro presided over “illegitimate” elections in 2018, as is claimed by the far-right opposition – it is up to the TSJ to decide, not the head of the National Assembly or even such an august authority as US Senator Marco Rubio. Or the craven US press (too numerous to cite), which without bothering to read the plain language of the Bolivarian Constitution, repeatedly refers to Guaido as the “constitutionally authorized” or “legitimate” president.

Roger Harris concludes the article with the following paragraph:

As Alfred de Zayas, United Nations independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, tweeted: “Article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution is inapplicable and cannot be twisted into legitimizing Guaido’s self-proclamation as interim President. A coup is a coup.”

13 February 2019

Source: Countercurrents.org

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