Venezuela: Imperialist Coup d’état Continues as Supreme Court Replaces National Assembly

Venezuela rejects attack of international right against the nation’s constitutionality

AVN

The Venezuelan government rejects the international right-wing’s attempts against the rule of law and the constitutional order of the country, a strategy led by the United States and a coalition of governments of the continent, along with opposition sectors to launch an intervention in the country.

“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela categorically rejects this international attack carried out by a coalition of right-wing governments and oligarchies to provide support to the Venezuelan interventionist and stateless opposition, and announces it will take political and diplomatic actions provided by international law and our domestic law to stop and prevent implementation of plans against Venezuela’s stability and peace,” said a statement released by the Foreign Ministry.

The full text follows:

BOLIVARIAN REPUBLIC OF VENEZUELA
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

STATEMENT

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela rejects the onslaught of the intolerant and pro-imperialist right-wing governments of the region, led by the US Department of State and power centers, which through falsehoods seek to undermine the rule of law in Venezuela and its constitutional order.

These governments, which have formed an interventionist coalition, have not yet processed the defeat received just a few hours ago at the Organization of American States of the interventionist plan against Venezuela that Mr. Luis Almagro tried to impose in a clear violation of international and national legality. They have unleashed a hysterical campaign against Venezuela, given the failure of their intentions to interfere in our internal affairs. They are motivated by revenge and political-ideological intolerance against the strong and vigorous Venezuelan democracy and its inclusive model of human rights.

It is absolutely inadmissible, without any legal basis, for a group of conspiring countries to interfere in matters of exclusive jurisdiction of sovereign states. It is also immoral the unprecedented destabilization operation they have unleashed against Venezuela, its revolution and its people.

Governments that systematically violate human rights, violently suppress political dissent, carry out coups d’etat against the electoral majorities, torture and assassinate popular leaders and journalists, promote the neoliberal model that causes misery and poverty, surprisingly aspire to condemn Venezuela, sided by powerful transnational media.

It is false that a coup d’etat has been carried out in Venezuela. On the contrary, its institutions have adopted legal corrections to stop the deviant and coup-like action of the opposition parliamentarians openly declared in contempt of the decisions issued by the highest court of the nation.

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela categorically rejects this international attack carried out by a coalition of right-wing governments and oligarchies to provide support to the Venezuelan interventionist and stateless opposition, and announces it will take political and diplomatic actions provided by international law and our domestic law to stop and prevent implementation of plans against Venezuela’s stability and peace.

“For Venezuela it is the same to fight against Spain as to fight against the whole world, if the whole world offends it.” Letter from Liberator hero Simon Bolivar to the American Agent, Mr. Irvine, October 1818.

Caracas, March 30, 2017

Venezuelan opposition seeks to break rule of law to consummate coup d’etat

AVN

The Venezuelan right activated a new phase of its coup plot against the constitutional government of President Nicolas Maduro, with the beginning of a campaign –with international support– aimed at justifying disobedience of the legal system and the public powers.

One of the pillars of this new attack is the lack of understanding of the Supreme Court of Justice’s powers, which this week issued two rulings defining the limits of parliamentary immunity and the conditions of the exercise of the legislative function while the National Assembly (AN) is in contempt of court.

Such decisions, in compliance with the powers enforced by the Constitution, are presented with high media volume in the world as an alleged coup against Parliament, whose acts are void for breaching judicial decisions.

The report of the supposed “breakdown of constitutional order” promoted by parliamentarians of the opposition coalition MUD is replicated by private, national and international media, and is aligned with the statement of the Attorney General, Luisa Ortega Diaz, and this Friday’s announcement by Parliament’s head Julio Borges, who appealed to the Prosecutor’s office against Court of Justice’s judgment.

This strategy joins an agenda of actions to “give energy to the street,” said Borges, who questioned the role of the State in the preservation of peace with calls to the Bolivarian National Armed Forces to ignore the Executive branch to defend the constitutional order.

This new stage of the coup plan has also the support of conservative governments of Latin America and Europe, which reproduce the false assumption of the rupture of constitutional order, and the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, who in a clear interference insists on applying the Democratic Charter against Venezuela without fulfilling the conditions for it.

Venezuela’s Attorney General Accuses Supreme Court of Violating the Constitution

https://venezuelanalysis.com/files/imagecache/images_set/images/2017/03/fiscalluisa.jpg_1609701233.jpg

Ryan Mallett-Outtrim

Venezuela’s Supreme Court has violated the country’s constitution, Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz warned Friday.

In a surprise announcement, Ortega said she had identified “several violations of the constitutional order” in the Supreme Court’s (TSJ) controversial decision to assume temporary legislative power.

The TSJ issued the ruling late Wednesday, after stating the country’s parliament, the National Assembly (AN), remained in contempt of previous court rulings. Those rulings included the court’s order for a group of legislators to be officially removed from office over allegations of electoral fraud.

Under the court’s decision, judges would effectively replace the parliament, and be able to pass legislation without parliamentary approval.

In her comments on Friday, Ortega conceded the dispute between the AN and TSJ is complex.

“There is an institutional struggle in the country that complicates the goals of the state,” she said.

However, she dismissed the TSJ’s claims that it had acted in accordance with the Venezuelan constitution.

“I consider it an unavoidable historical duty – not only in my capacity as attorney general … but also as a citizen of this country – to refer to the recent decisions signed … by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice. These judgements show several violations of the constitutional order and ignorance of the model of state enshrined in the constitution of the republic,” she said.

She added, “It is my obligation to express to the country my serious concern.”

Ortega continued by calling for political dialogue between the TSJ, President Nicolas Maduro and the AN.

“On behalf of nearly 10,000 civil servants … we call for reflection and that democratic paths are taken, and … an environment of respect and rescue of plurality, for democratic debate, and respect for [political] differences; to achieve institutional paths that guarantee peace and overcome the obstacles that currently prevent us from providing the quality of life that our population requires,” she said.

Venezuela has been in a state of political deadlock for over a year. The right-wing opposition controls the AN, and has accused Maduro of using the TSJ to nerf legislation. Maduro has warned the opposition seeks to roll back over a decade of social programs aimed at reducing poverty.

UPDATE 13:15: Neither the TSJ or Maduro have responded to Ortega’s comments. However, former attorney general Isaias Rodriguez has disputed Ortega’s conclusions. Speaking to state broadcaster VTV, Rodriguez said the TSJ’s decision is justified under articles 335 and 336 of the constitution.

Venezuela’s Supreme Court to Temporarily Assume Role of National Assembly

Rachael Boothroyd Rojas

Venezuela’s Supreme Court (TSJ) released a ruling Wednesday, announcing that it will temporarily assume the functions of the National Assembly until the body ceases to be “in contempt of court”.

The Venezuelan legislative branch has been in violation of a Supreme Court order since July 28th 2016, when opposition lawmakers swore-in three deputies from Amazonas state in breach of a December 2015 TSJ ruling barring them from taking office. All three delegates are currently under investigation into allegations of vote-buying during their election, alongside a pro-government legislator from the same state who was never sworn in.

Wednesday’s decision came in response to a request for legal interpretation from a subsidiary of state oil company PDVSA, regarding whether Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro could change the conditions of “mixed” public and private enterprises without the approval of the legislative branch. The case was submitted after the president approved a string of economic measures via executive decree this past Monday, including reforms to some joint public-private ventures.

Venezuelan law states that presidential initiatives involving mixed-public-private enterprises must be authorised first by the legislative branch. However the TSJ ruled Wednesday the legislature was “incapacitated to carry out its constitutional obligations for political control over state management” due to being in contempt. The judicial branch also ruled that there was “no impediment” to the economic measures going ahead.

Appealing to article 336.7 of the Constitution, which allows the TSJ to take “corrective measures” in the case of an “unconstitutional parliamentary default”, the Supreme Court decision also indicated that it would assume the legislature’s constitutional responsibilities until the three offending legislators are removed.

“This tribunal decides that the National Assembly, acting in a de facto manner, cannot modify the proposed conditions or attempt to establish other conditions (in relation to the mixed enterprises),” reads the statement.

“While a situation of contempt (of court) and the invalidity of the actions of the National Assembly persist, this Constitutional tribunal will guarantee that parliamentary functions are exercised directly by this tribunal or by another body at its disposition, in order to maintain the rule of law,” continued the ruling.

Support for OAS Democracy Clause

The stand-off between the Venezuelan branches of government has drawn increasing attention in the international arena, and Wednesday’s ruling comes just a day after an extraordinary session was held at the Organisation of American States (OAS) to address the issue of Venezuela’s democracy.

The session was promoted by OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, who submitted a 75 page report earlier in March calling on member states to suspend Venezuela from the organisation due to a series of alleged political rights violations.

Venezuelan opposition legislators publicly rallied to Almagro’s proposal, issuing a statement on March 21st entitled “the Agreement to Reactivate the Application of the Democratic Charter” in support of Venezuela’s suspension. High profile opposition spokespeople also appeared alongside Almagro at an OAS press conference.

Nonetheless, the National Assembly’s controversial statement was also nullified by the TSJ in a separate decision this past Tuesday.

Responding to an official complaint filed by pro-government legislator, Hector Rodriguez, the TSJ emphasised once again that “the leadership of the National Assembly, alongside legislators grouped under the denominated Unity {opposition} Bloc, have stubbornly decided to maintain their state of contempt of court” through their refusal to disincorporate the three barred legislators.

In addition to declaring the statement invalid, the TSJ also ordered the initiation of a “control procedure” to ensure that the constitution and the rights of the nation are upheld.

The ruling also stated that there were grounds to believe that opposition lawmakers had committed treason, as outlined in the Venezuelan penal code, and reminded legislators that their parliamentary immunity was not in place due to the National Assembly’s contempt of court.

Article 132 of the Venezuelan Penal Code prohibits Venezuelans from “soliciting outside intervention in Venezuela’s national politics”.

Opposition Reaction

Opposition spokespeople have reacted angrily to the rulings, and accused the government of arbitrarily “dissolving the National Assembly”.

In a public act outside the legislature, National Assembly President Julio Borges for the Justice First party tore up a copy of the TSJ decision and said that the legislature would refuse to recognise the Supreme Court. He called the TSJ’s rulings “trash” and said they amounted to a state coup.

Meanwhile a scuffle broke out when members of the National Guard blocked an attempt by three opposition legislators and their supporters to spontaneously march on the Supreme Court in protest.

In the international arena, the Pedro Pablo Kuzcynski government of Peru immediately withdrew its ambassador from Caracas in reaction to the ruling, while the governments of Colombia, Argentina and Mexico released statements “expressing concern”.

Opposition Courts Controversy in National Assembly

Venezuela’s opposition won a parliamentary majority in December 2015 for the first time since 1999.

Although opposition lawmakers originally respected the TSJ’s decision to block the three legislators under investigation, they eventually flouted the order by swearing in the deputies in July 2016.

The three legislators then offered their written resignation to the NA presidency in November last year as part of a bargaining manouevre in talks with the national government. Nonetheless one of the legislators in question, Julio Ygarza, later revealed that the deputies reneged on their resignations just weeks later and once again returned to parliament. Ygarza also confirmed that the Amazonas legislators had asked the opposition to remove the issue of their resignation from talks with the government.

Since a National Assembly vote agreeing to once again remove the legislators in January this year, the presidency of the legislature has refused to officially unseat the three lawmakers under conditions established by the Supreme Court.

These stipulations include officially unseating the three legislators in a ceremony presided over by the National Assembly’s 2016 presidency, which is considered legitimate by the TSJ, and the subsequent re-election of the legislature presidency for 2017.

Prior to July 2016, the legislature managed to pass four pieces of legislation into law. However three of the laws, including a highly controversial amnesty law and a project to privatize social housing, were subsequently thrown out by the Supreme Court for violating the constitution. The opposition-promoted Law for Food and Medicine Bonuses for Retirees and Pensioners was upheld as constitutional by the TSJ and subsequently passed into law.

In January, opposition legislators also provoked backlash from the Supreme Court when they passed a resolution calling for the president to be removed, claiming that he had “abandoned his post”. The TSJ hit back accusing the National Assembly of overstepping its powers under the Constitution.

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