By Joshua Tartakovsky,  3 March 2016

Following the defeat of the PSUV in the December 2015 elections, whose causes were addressed earlier, it was only a matter of time before there would be growing attempts by the opposition to replace President Nicolas Maduro and send him packing.  In such a scenario, Maduro may even flee the country after he is toppled. With every passing day it is becoming clear that Maduro is serving on borrowed time. The economy is collapsing and the public expressed its disdain for Maduro in its popular vote. But, as before, Maduro refuses to take responsibility for his mistakes and incompetence and cowardly hides behind the legacy of Comandante Hugo Chavez. The corrupt opposition, now a majority in parliament, is seeking Maduro’s removal and will eventually succeed, whether by replacing supreme judges and forcing Maduro’s impeachment or even by getting a corrupt general to carry out a coup and then placing their man as president.  There have been talks on the opposition amending the constitution to shorten the president’s rule to four years and will hold presidential elections in December 2016 but in my view, Maduro has a much shorter span – four or five more months at the maximum.  The opposition does not have patience to wait that long. According to Stratfor, the opposition is already working on the possibility of the military taking over by working with military factions that oppose Chavez’s legacy. It is becoming clear, that the longer the well-meaning Left waits, the more they have a chance of losing it all. Indeed, as Nicmer Evans, head of Marea Socialista – a radical Chavista organization – said, Maduro must resign to save the economy and the Bolivarian process. He said there is no other choice and that a new government must work to stabilize the situation in the earliest possible time.The problem is that Maduro doesn’t want to resign. But the question is, can Venezuela afford Maduro as President, when it is clear that the right-wing will remove him one way or another?  Whether it’s by impeaching judges, amending the constitution, having early elections or getting a corrupt military faction to assume power, Maduro will be removed.  He will bring the entire country down. The Presidency will not be passed on to Vice President Aristóbulo Istúriz but to the dirty Venezuelan opposition.Will Venezuela be taken over by a corrupt opposition, which stole food from the poor, destroyed the Venezuelan economy by speculation, promoted and encouraged murderous attacks in the country, supported violence and the shooting of police?

Can Venezuela be put in the hands of those who praised killers who engaged in violence and who are a fifth column in the country, reliant on support from the White House and the State Department rather serving Venezuela’s interests?

Can Venezuela be put in the hands of traitors who will rely on corrupt factions in the military and full US backing?

Can Venezuela be put in the hands of those who wish to enrich themselves at the expense of the population, who do not wish to see all Venezuelans prosper, who will sell off the country’s assets to foreign bidders?

If Venezuela located at its strategic location is turned over to Barack Hussein Obama, then it is clear that in the upcoming Third World War, Venezuela will safely positioned along the axis of the criminal Erdogan’s Turkey, Wahabi Saudi Arabia and Merkel who is welcoming millions of Muslims into her country for slave labor.

Venezuela needs to be part of the rational, anti-terrorist axis. This axis includes Russia, China, secular and multicultural Syria under Dr Bashar al Assad –the old time loyal friend of President Hugo Chavez. Venezuela does not need to be on the side of the jihadists and the US State Department that supports them.

Both nationally and globally there is no time to lose.

And it is not a question of whether Maduro will stay or go. He will be removed. The question is, by whom? Every day things get worse.

Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López, is not only young and charismatic, (rather than being lethargic as Maduro) but he also enjoys the love and support of the majority of the public. He has excellent relations with Cuba, Russia and China, and is committed to the Bolivarian process. As a man of integrity, competence, and charisma he can deliver. Venezuelans loved Chavez because he was a powerful man from the military who cared for them. Padrino López would be very popular among the public if he takes over, for the same reasons.

The problem is that Padrino López was appointed by Maduro and therefore he feels bad about removing Maduro in a way that is not dignified although he believes Maduro must go. But Padrino López cannot afford to hesitate. For the longer he waits,  the more it will eventually be inevitable that the entire Maduro government will collapse in the most undignified way possible with ugly scenes of chaos and lynching. The Chavez process will be tarnished for decades. Padrino López’s reputation will be tied to that of failed Maduro. It will be too late for the Chavistas to grab power.

An emergency time requires an emergency solution. Saving Venezuela is far more important than saving the dignity of the failed Maduro, who is bringing the country down with him.

At a time when food is scarce in Venezuela, when inflation is high, when violence is rampant, the military, led by Padrino López, must take over.  Padrino López is the former commander of strategic operations of the Armed Forces of Venezuela.  He has the trust of the public and of the military. Since he is already in the government, he is familiar with being in power and with how civilian affairs need to be run.  The transition for him personally will be relatively easy. Furthermore, Venezuela is already being patrolled by the military that searches flights for drugs and the army is already in charge of a new company that will deal with mining and oil.  The army also provides security for the Venezuelan oil company PDVSA.

If Padrino López waits, a faction in the military may take over – aided by the opposition – and the country will collapse into greater economic chaos. Only a fool believes that the opposition has the country’s good in mind. And, needless to say, if now the country is in disarray, with the opposition it will be buried 10 foot under.

Padrino López does not want to be a Judas Iscariot. That is understandable. But he is not doing this for a personal gain, if he takes over, he is doing it for the country.  There are times when one must not have false modesty. At a time of emergency, one must take responsibility. As the ancient Jewish text, Ethics of Our Fathers says, “In the place where there are no men, strive to be a man.” Where rulers are incompetent, one must takeover. There is no alternative.

The public trusts and loves the military, and only the Armed Forces of Venezuela can restore order, have a strict plant to protect and revive the economy, protect the country’s natural resources from exploitation, ensure safety in the streets, and bring back a sense of normalcy. But the army must act decisively and with determination. And it can only do so under the strict orders of Padrino López.

But if the army takes over, it must work with the population, admit past mistakes were made, and empower the people once again, Greek Left leader Dimitris Kazakis said. This time, Venezuela must go the whole way. Those who betrayed Venezuela, leading opposition figures and traitors in the army, must be given the treatment given to traitors at a time of war. Venezuela must engage in a protectionist economy, which now is being offered in its US version even by Donald Trump.  Venezuela waited for too long. This is the last chance.

Of course, the US will cause more havoc than it is causing already. But Venezuelans are the kind of people who exhibit the most courageous and heroic levels of determination when faced by the greatest dangers and onslaughts which will cause others to crumble, when they know they are led by dedicated leaders. As Chavez said: “Go to hell, Yankee shits, here stands a dignified people. Go to hell a hundred times, we are the sons of Bolivar!”

Now that Venezuelans have their back against the wall, the country can be resurrected. Under the leadership of Padrino López  and with the military in power, Venezuela can be secured both from US attacks and from internal subversion. The economy can be put on an emergency plan and saved.  Protectionism can be enacted. Security can be restored, inflation can be brought under control and the economy will be revived again. But of course, for that to happen, the military must act as a military, with the support of the population.

It is not too late. Now is the time for Vladimir Padrino López to step in as a Padrino and save Venezuela.