These are key questions facing Venezuela’s current power struggles and the intensifying political conflict.
“Was there a Self-coup”?
No, there wasn’t a coup. Venezuelan Supreme Court ruling assumes the current state of the Parliament, which finds itself in contempt for not rectifying the wrongful designation of 3 Amazonas state’s Members of Parliament (MP), whose oaths were considered illegitimate, vetoed before the Venezuelan Supreme Court which declared that Parliament’s “constant” acts of contempt and disregardful attitude towards the Judicial Power are contrary to Constitution’s institutional functions; it does not disregard the existence nor assigned positions of those who legitimately integrate and have rightful designations within the National Assembly.
In essence, Supreme Court’s ruling holds up the substance of previous verdicts, where parliament has repeatedly been asked to desist from not following the court’s verdicts, “until the state of contempt is overcome” the court announced that it will assume parliamentary functions. A “coup d’état” is constituted as the dismembering or displacement of a political power. There is no coup d’etat when a political power can return to its functions, by legal and institutional means, as could the National Assembly (Venezuelan Parliament) if they decide to overcome their contempt and return to its institutional functions. A coup would negate the possibility that the Venezuelan’s parliament still has before it.
Was Venezuela’s Parliament Dissolved?
Definitely not. In fact, it could return to functions in just a few days, if only Henry Ramos Allup and senior MPs elected in January of 2016, decide to withdraw the Amazonas’ MPs and then place Julio Borges as Leader of Parliament. Allup was the only Assembly head elected in compliance with the constitution – this isn’t the case for Julio Borges’s, whose ‘election’ as Assembly president was not in accordance with the constitution, and therefore all of Borges’ actions as head of the chamber are considered null and void.
Let’s remember that last January, after dialoguing with Chavismo’s representatives, the National Assembly agreed to withdraw Amazonas’ MPs. However, it was while in the state of contempt that they named Borges as president of the assembly and then withdrew the Amazonas’ MPs. That act is therefore, void. The Supreme Court urged parliament to undertake the withdrawal in a legally correct manner, but they refused and hastily removed themselves from the dialogue, impeding the political process.
A National Assembly with the ability and guarantees of returning to its functions is not a disintegrated Assembly.
Why Does the High Court Assumes Functions?
Like all public powers, the Supreme Court is obliged to protect the constitutional and institutional laws, to protect society from all kinds of disturbances. That is to say; it protects Venezuela’s “social pacts”.
In view of the parliament’s contempt, self-annulment, and stagnant condition, the country’s political stability hangs by a thread deriving in the irregular absence of one of it’s political powers. This situation has remained for over a year now. That the Government has a vacant space, the absence of a political power is a predicament that puts the State in uncertainty and institutional vulnerability. In fact, the MUD (coalition of opposition parties) uses Parliament to attack the entire State structure, ranging from the Executive and other political powers, jeopardizing all institutions and directly violating the rule of law. It is before this situation that the Supreme Court has pronounced itself.
The purpose is to sustain a functioning State and the court assumes incidental functions, while the majority of politicians in parliament decide to overturn its current situation, which according to the Constitution is called “Unconstitutional Legislative Omission”.
We must insist that this situation will persist as long as MUD’s MPs within parliament decide. The Supreme Court is crystal clear and states in paragraph 4 of it’s sentence: “As long as the state of contempt and of invalid proceedings from the National Assembly persists, the Supreme Court’s Constitutional Chamber will duly guarantee that Legislative Powers are exercised directly by this Chamber or by the governing body it delegates, to ensure the rule of law.”
Is there an Economic Event that Triggered this Issue?
Chavismo has repeatedly criticized Parliament under MUD’s rule for exponentially raising national political conflicts, reflected today in power struggles. There has been an unprecedented increase in what the Venezuelan government and Chavismo describe as “attempts to paralyze State and country.” Chavismo also charges the Parliament as forming part of an institutional boycott as a means of intensifying the economic boycott, which is what facilitated the only Venezuelan right-wing parliamentary victory in 18 years. As we will further explain, this last statement is neither reckless nor exaggerated.
The Supreme Court’s verdict is the result of an appeal filed by the Executive branch through PDVSA (Venezuelan oil state company) who is obliged to submit to Parliament the request to form “Joint Ventures” or consortiums, to financially engage possible investors involved in Venezuela’s oil developments. PDVSA, due to Parliament’s current situation, submitted to the court another way to form new joint ventures and attract investments.
Paragraph 1 of the verdict reads as follows: “On the basis of declared Unconstitutional Omission (of Parliament), we (the Supreme Court’s Constitutional Chamber) consider that the Executive branch has no impediment with authorizing joint ventures in the nature established by article 33 of the Organic Hydrocarbons Law, and the National Executive is required to inform the Constitutional Chamber of all circumstances pertinent to said agreements and conditions. As well as, any subsequent modification of conditions, the Chamber must be informed”. The crux of the matter is that – this is the only function the Supreme Court assumed is what is explicitly stated in its verdict.
This means that the Supreme Court should be notified of the PDVSA’s activities with other parties to allow the court to ensure compliance with the current Hydrocarbons Law, and nothing else. They authorize the President to continue to take pertinent actions within the framework of the “Economic and State of Emergency” in order to overcome the current economic situation.
What are Chavismo’s Enemies, Inside and Outside Venezuela, Betting on?
No one should doubt that PDVSA and Venezuela require an increase in foreign investment and capital flow, even more if needed for areas vital to the national economy, such as national oil developments and the Hugo Chávez Orinoco Oil Belt, the largest oil project in the world. So what does the parliament hope to accomplish by boycotting this decision? Are they really hoping for the resurgence of the Venezuelan economic situation?
The exaggerated declaration of a “coup d’état” and “disintegration of Parliament” by the right-wing in Venezuela and abroad, is part of the agenda of Chavismo opponents inside and outside Venezuela to create a climate of chaos and for intervention. This is what is happening right now and on simultaneous fronts – a disproportionate political intoxication and acceleration of events.
The United States and other countries subservient to their foreign agenda move pieces and react, ignoring the compliance to the law by Venezuela’s Supreme Court. This issue must be addressed cautiously. Few hours after the Supreme Court’s ruling, Luis Almagro, OAS Secretary General, called for a new “emergency meeting” of it’s Permanent Council to declare Venezuela as an outlaw state, increasing the intensity of the confrontation. It seems that boycott towards Venezuela escalating in ways that are ever more constant and at the same time, unusual.
This article was original published in Mision Verdad English