Nicolás Maduro has been above the Constitution for a while. As of December 6 2015, he decided to change the rules of the game and does not take into account the opinion that Venezuelan citizens have expressed with their votes. That day he recognized the electoral outcome, but began to act to make its consequences impossible.
A few days later he handpicked, through his very own Congress, new justices for the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ), many of them without complying with the legal requirements to become members of this court or the established legal periods.
At the end of that year, they made up some electoral irregularities in Amazonas state in order to ignore the electoral outcome there and subtract three members of the democratic opposition with which eliminated the much-needed two-thirds majority to select new members for the TSJ and the National Electoral Council (CNE).
From there, the TSJ has overturned all the decisions made by Venezuela’s legitimate Congress. In 2016, the four government-biased directors of the CNE did everything in their power to prevent a recall referendum against Maduro – and they made it happen.
As if that were not enough, in 2017, the TSJ sought to eliminate the Congress (aka National Assembly or AN), which caused the reaction of hundreds of thousands of citizens, who were violently repressed through the excessive use of force and countless human rights violations, resulting in over 150 deaths and a large number of wounded not yet determined, in addition to the illegal imprisonment of hundreds of citizens.
That same year, a Constituent Assembly (ANC) was "elected," thus violating the Constitution once more for not consulting the Venezuelan people if they agreed with the call, in addition to the design of an electoral system through which the minority obtained more representatives than the majority.
The gubernatorial elections of 2017 were plagued with irregularities and violations of the electoral law, all of them encouraged, promoted and supported by the four government-biased directors of the CNE.
The illegitimate ANC called a presidential election held on May 20 of this year that was also plagued with opportunism and irregularities favorable to Maduro. The card of the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) opposition coalition – the most voted in the electoral history of the country – was annulled while the parties Primero Justicia (justice first) and Voluntad Popular (popular will) were banned, a measure also taken against opposition leaders Leopoldo López and Henrique Capriles Radonsky.
In a bid to clean up the mess, the Government signed an agreement with opposition candidate Henri Falcón, whose terms were not complied with during the election campaign, and much less on election day. Falcón denounced what happened the same day as he did not recognize the outcome by making a call to repeat the elections in order to comply with the requirements of the law.
All of the above makes it clear that Maduro was not elected President of the Republic in compliance with the provisions of the Constitution and the laws, meaning that he will be illegally holding office from January 10 onwards.
A position from which he will continue destroying the country, generating more hyperinflation, shortages of medicines, with rampant corruption and impunity, poor public services, the destruction of PDVSA, the state-owned oil company, will continue, and so forth. In two words: greater poverty.
It is the duty of us all to observe and enforce the Constitution. The leaders of the democratic parties and civil society have to define a path to get rid of Maduro. That route must be built upon the broadest possible unity. There is no second to be wasted in achieving that goal.