Can Venezuela afford a Colombian President?
Latin American literature and soap operas have delighted audiences with stories of missing children. Restitution to their families ensues from legal justice or divine intervention. And such happy ending has surely fascinated audiences to no end. Recent suggestions that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is not only Venezuelan but also Colombian seem to follow the lines of such traditional scripts. Venezuelans are eagerly waiting for the official opening of such novella.
In recent weeks, there have been growing speculations in printed and social media that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was born in Colombia and not legally entitled to run the presidency. The absence of Maduro’s birth certificate and contradictory official statements on his place of birth has fueled the debate. His Political foes have grasped the opportunity to express doubts over the legitimacy of Maduro administration. Such move adds thrill to the existing legal challenges on the results of the December presidential elections that the opposition posed at the Supreme Court and regional parliaments.
Some argue that current constitutional provisions prevent the presidential election of any Venezuelan that holds another nationality. Thus, if Nicolas Maduro was born in Colombia or from a Colombian mother, he is not entitled to run the presidency. However, the Venezuelan Constitution does allow for dual nationality. In addition, recent legislation on citizenship also allows for the adoption of the nationality of a foreign parent without losing the original one. It is only the adoption of a nationality different from one’s place of birth (jus soli) or parents (jus sanguinis) that affects the right to run for the Venezuelan presidency. On 4th July, a statement on dual nationality from the Attorney General Luis Ortega Diaz attempted to clarify the matter.
Nicolas Maduro´s mother was Colombian and his Venezuelan father had Sephardic origins. Thus, Maduro is legally entitled to Venezuelan, Colombian and Israeli nationalities. But, not disclosing his real place of birth or the adoption of Colombian nationality during childhood could place President Nicolas Maduro in an odd position. Adverse political and not legal consequences could further jeopardize his popularity or increase challenges inside the ruling party. Having a dual nationality President does not seem to be in the liking of Venezuelans yet. It is likely that the debate over Maduro nationality would catch the attention of local audiences in the new chapter of the Venezuelan political novella.