Maduro receiving the presidential sash (Prensa Presidencial)
Mérida, 19th April 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Nicolas Maduro was sworn in as Venezuelan president for the constitutional period 2013 – 2019 today, promising to continue Hugo Chavez’s legacy and spearhead “a revolution of the revolution”.
In a formal act in the National Assembly in Caracas, Maduro took his presidential oath before assembly president Diosdado Cabello.
“I swear by the whole people of Venezuela, by the supreme commander [Hugo Chavez], that I will abide by and make respected the Constitution of the Laws of the Republic…to construct an independent, free and socialist nation for all,” Maduro declared.
Cabello and daughter of late President Hugo Chavez Maria Gabriela Chavez then placed the presidential sash upon Maduro.
In the presence of representatives of sixty-one countries and various government and public figures, Maduro made his first speech as constitutional president, which was broadcast to the nation.
The beginning of the speech was interrupted when an unknown man ran up to Maduro, taking the microphone and made an inaudible statement. After the man was escorted away, Maduro criticised the “failure” of security, warning “I could have received a bullet”.
Un-phased, the Venezuelan president spoke on various themes, including the legacy of Hugo Chavez and trajectory of the Bolivarian revolution up to the current moment.
The speech also touched upon events in Venezuela since last Sunday, when opposition candidate Henrique Capriles refused to recognise his electoral defeat, losing to Maduro by just 1.8%.
Maduro criticised Capriles for calling his supporters onto the streets on Monday night to protest the result, rather than taking the constitutional route of formally submitting any claims to the National Electoral Council (CNE).
The president also attacked what he called an opposition strategy to promote “xenophobia” in Venezuela, through criticisms of the role of Cuba and the presence of Cuban doctors in the country.
Maduro ventured that this strategy was responsible for the attacks against Cuban-staffed health clinics this week, after the opposition’s protests led to confrontations and violence. As a result, Maduro swore to promote “peace” and to defeat the “anti-values” of racism and intolerance.
Further, according to the Venezuelan president, “whatever comes out” of the CNE’s widened audit of the presidential vote, “they [the opposition] aren’t going to recognise the result; they have another plan”.
However, the former bus driver assured that the government is “ready” for any further attempts at violence and sabotage, and that “the nation is strong, it is awoken”.
Dialogue and revolution
Maduro’s speech also focused on working with various sectors of Venezuelan society, including those who voted against him last Sunday.
“Fellow countryman or countrywoman who is at home or work…that for some reason voted against the candidate of the nation, I stretch out my hand to you. We guarantee peace in this country,” he said.
Maduro set out his vision of governance for the coming period, looking to reinvigorate the Bolivarian revolution after last Sunday’s narrow electoral victory. This approach was termed a “revolution of the revolution”, with Maduro looking to tackle problems which have cost the government support.
These include pledges to reduce crime, improve government efficiency and crack down on corruption. On the economy, Maduro said he would work to raise production while tackling shortages and economic “sabotage”.
The Venezuelan president also set the ambitious aim of “zero poverty” in Venezuela by 2019, to be pursued through continuing government social programs and other anti-poverty mechanisms.
Finally, Maduro committed to a “democratic revolution” by working to promote community councils and communes and move towards a “socialist mode of living”. He assured this could not be done by the government, but rather “by the people”.
The inauguration coincides with the 203rd anniversary of Venezuela’s independence, with Maduro participating in a military parade through in the Heroes Avenue in Caracas.
The opposition’s parliamentary deputies did not attend today’s swearing-in event, refusing to recognise Maduro until the CNE undertakes a 100% audit of Sunday’s vote.
Defeated opposition candidate Henrique Capriles called on supporters to bang pots and pans and play salsa during the event as a protest against what the opposition claims is Maduro’s “illegitimacy”.
A legal effort to block the swearing-in event in the National Assembly (AN) was quashed by the Supreme Court yesterday, which ruled that any challenges to the 14 April election result should be directed to the CNE, and had nothing to do with the AN.
Further, Henrique Capriles has formally returned to his post as governor of Miranda, after the Miranda state legislative council moved to declare his “absolute absence” from the post. The government’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) holds a majority on the council.
Miranda legislative council president, Aurora Morales, welcomed Capriles’ decision, arguing that he “assumed before the world that he isn’t president of Venezuela” and that he was “made to respect the laws and democratic institutions” of the country.