Eleazar Diaz Rangel, an editor of Venezuela’s largest prívate newspaper, Ultimas Noticias, argues that President Nicolas Maduro, aware that he cannot replace or govern like Hugo Chavez, has sought to implement a more collective leadership of the Bolivarian process.
The person most conscious that he is unlike Hugo Chavez, most aware that he cannot replace or govern like President Chavez, is none other than Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
No one among the most important leaders of Venezuela’s current democratic process holds the authority that Chavez held. No one has his capacity to be heard across the nation, to be understood around the world, and no one is as able as he was to unite pro-Chavez forces and the country’s armed forces. President Maduro knows it well, and for this reason he has repeatedly insisted on his commitment to governing as a team. Speaking last Saturday, for example, Maduro told the nation that what he wants most is “a collective leadership”.
President Maduro recently reiterated this point as he convened the first official Council of State of his presidency. “This is about creating a collective leadership”, Maduro said. The meeting itself is proof of his intentions, given the fact that while the Council of State was first created in 1999 it never actually met until last week. Though President Chavez spoke of it last year, naming a few of its members and asking it to evaluate Venezuela’s formal separation from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, for unknown reasons no formal sessions ever really took place.
Maduro, in contrast, convened the Council of State, pushed for it to meet immediately, added two spokesmen representing allies, and assigned it four tasks of great importance and complexity. The president is clearly in open pursuit of the opinions and guidance of vocal representatives of the people. He is looking for a diversity of voices as he confronts important questions such as the critical relations with neighboring Colombia, the threats to political stability, problems relating to insecurity, corruption, and the multifaceted economic situation, all of which he seems committed to addressing.
All of these issues are extremely demanding and will require a great deal of time and energy before the Council of State can issue conclusions and proposals. As part of this same effort, before the Council of State last week Maduro also participated in an assembly of the Great Patriotic Pole (GPP) – the coalition of progressive forces united by Chavez to secure a socialist presidential victory in October of 2012. Maduro met with the coalition to discuss the relationship between the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and other members of the GPP, something the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV) has been requesting for years.
According to Maduro himself, the assembly was a “qualitative leap” in the struggle to consolidate political forums that allow for the collective leadership he is working towards. Not long before his passing, President Chavez presented the nation with what he called the “Political-Military Command of the Revolution”, a leadership of which nothing more is known. Does it still exist? Does it meet? Another aspect of this process that must not be overlooked is Maduro’s “government on the streets”. As he criss-crosses the nation, President Maduro is making direct contact with the people, with communities and their organizations, offering solutions to the problems they pose. This policy, currently underway from state to state, is to be given continuity by community councils nationwide.
Also worth mentioning, in closing, are two institutional entities that will also serve Maduro in his effort to build a collective leadership. The Council of Ministers and the PSUV National Leadership are both forums in which other issues can be addressed and where differences of opinion can be discussed. It can also be assumed that in his daily decisionmaking, Maduro will be advised by his closest collaborators and thus be able to face situations of great difficulty such as those mentioned by President Chavez on October 20, 2012. During that first Council of Ministers following his October 7th re-election, Chavez stressed the urgent need for criticism and self-criticism given the numerous examples of proposals that, though approved by the President, were never carried out. His observations, now commonly referred to as the “Golpe de Timon”, should serve to guide these entities of collective leadership, beginning with the Council of Ministers. We should recognize the importance of these initiatives being carried out by President Maduro, trust that he will know how to take in opinions that differ from his, and confide in the fact that this newly-created “collective leadership” will help him with the complex task of governing the nation under such difficult circumstances.
Translated from the original by Correo del Orinoco International