So, you remember that bit of the constitution where it says that in order for the President to declare an Economic Emergency, he needs the National Assembly’s approval? Yeah, that bit…

Well, the chavista Supreme Tribunal has just ruled that when the constitution says you can’t do that without parliamentary approval, what it means is that you can do that without parliamentary approval. 

Even by the standards of the Chavista TSJ this ruling is really, really crazy.

The decision interprets boilerplate in article 27 of the Ley Orgánica sobre Decretos de Excepción saying “the decree shall be approved by an absolute majority of deputies at the National Assembly” to mean that the majority of deputies has a positive obligation to vote in favor of any State of Exception put before them, and is violating the constitution if it refuses to accord it!

3.3.- En lo que concierne al control político, deberá ser “aprobado por la mayoría absoluta de los diputados y diputadas presentes en sesión especial que se realizará sin previa convocatoria, dentro de las cuarenta y ocho horas de haberse hecho público el decreto” (artículo 27, párrafo primero Ley Orgánica sobre Estados de Excepción); norma que, por notoriedad comunicacional, advierte esta Sala, no fue cumplida por la Asamblea Nacional, circunstancia que vulneró la legalidad procesal, la seguridad jurídica y el debido proceso consagrado en el artículo 49 Constitucional, pilares fundamentales del Estado Constitucional de Derecho (vid. arts. 2, 7, 137, 334, 335 y 336 del Texto Fundamental), viciando de nulidad por inconstitucionalidad el proceso que culminó con el constitucionalmente írrito acuerdo dictado por la máxima representación del Poder Legislativo Nacional, el 22 de enero de 2016.

The Economic Emergency Decree is now in force.

The Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela? Not so much…

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.


  1. For fucks sake, go after the TSJ already. The idea behind tripling the number of magistrates in the Supreme Court should be the first thing on the majority’s agenda.

    • New Bolivarian Doctrine, as enunciated by Maduro and Gladys Gutiérrez at the opening of the judicial year, states – in effect – that the Supreme Court (i.e. the government) can simply overrule whatever the National Assembly does. (Must be something about the word “supreme” that has them confused.) The implication of this is that peaceful, constitutional change is being deliberately struck off the agenda.

      The government, one can only assume, is very keen to shift the conflict back to where it feels most comfortable, i.e. a war on the streets. It is going to be extremely difficult for the opposition leadership to continue arguing in favour of strategies based on constitutional rights that apparently no longer exist. And that, presumably, is part of the calculation.

      It is notable too that this has happened on a day that the “international community”, in the shape of Samper and Fernández, was visiting. Says something about how much the government worries that it might face international condemnation.

  2. With this decision , the last pretense that there is a semblance of rule of law in Venezuela has dissapeared , we are now unabashedly and openly a government ruled by dictatorial decree. !!

    • Lamentablamente, every time the Regimen breaks another Constitutional Law or does something utterly outrageous, illegal we say that this is now “openly a Dictatorship”. It has been for a long, long time. The broken laws and usurpation of powers is so common that it not longer means anything to anyone inside VZLA and it appears outside as well. Imagine if this was going on in France, England or Germany. People are so desensitized to the abuse of the Constitution and all together scrapping that it no longer has the force of law or support. Constituyente is the only viable option for the country to recover Constitutional Law. Although it can not happen now as it would never be tolerated or allowed by the Regime, it is time for people to understand the current Constitution is as good as the one of 1961. Null and voided by the govt. itself.

  3. Es una de las vainas más voladas que yo he leido en mi vida. These people have broken through the crazy barrier, reupped on their crazy, and crazied on s’more…

    • ¿Pero es que usted no sabía que el chavizmo corre con un nuevo combustible renovable que se autosustenta, Mr. Toro?

      El chavizmo corre con algo llamado demencia cínica, que mientras más caradura sea la acción y más hiperbólica sea la reacción, concluye entonces generando de nuevo más del mismo producto que se vuelve a consumir en sí mismo.

  4. This is the summary of “If you are not with me, you are against me”. A resolution to legalize a phrase from el comandante intergalactico

  5. Isn’t the ‘problem’ that the TSJ identifies rather the fact that a special session to discuss only the emergency decree was not held? Or, if it was held, other topics were discussed? Or that either too much time, or not enough time was taken to hold that session?

  6. They are forcing the clashes of branches of power. Inevitably the MUD will be forced to look at the removal of the latest appointed Justices (back in Dec. 23). It looks like the hands of Godgiven are around…

  7. Everyone misses the point here. The real insanity of the TSJ is that by UPHOLDING the Economic Emergency Decree, the Chavista’s have taken full ownership/responsibility of this impending humanitarian catastrophe. “We’re in charge here, we’re in control! Trust us!” Had the Chavista’s actually thought this thing through, actual planning and thought being extremely rare in the membership, they would have had the TSJ reject their “decree,” thereby placing the full blame of the imminent economic meltdown on the AN. “We had some excellent ideas of solving this mess, but the AN wouldn’t pass our legislation. Damn! It’s gotta be all of their fault!” Yup, these people really are crazy! Thank you TSJ!

  8. An obvious subversion of the least this will give the military an excuse to take over if they feel like it.
    now to see which group is next.

  9. I don’t think I agree with your interpretation of the decision. I think that the TSJ is grasping at a procedural ‘violation’ of either having announced a ‘convocatoria’ (violating the ‘sin previa convocatoria’), not holding it in time (waiting longer than the stipulated 48 hours) or discussing other items in that special session.

    I think the ‘notoriedad comunicacional’ is given as pretext to nullify the assembly’s work, but I don’t know what that even means.

    That’s what I think, but t’s probably that I don’t have a good enough grasp of spanish ‘legalese’ to get into the details…

    • See the following from el universal:

      Según información oficial publicada en la página web del TSJ, se indicó adicionalmente, que el fallo “expresó que el control político de la Asamblea Nacional sobre los decretos que declaran estados de excepción no afecta la legitimidad, validez, vigencia y eficacia jurídico Constitucional de los mismos; y precisamente respecto del proceso de consideración del Decreto N 2.184 por parte de la Asamblea Nacional, se señaló que por notoriedad comunicacional se conoció que no fue cumplido el artículo 27, párrafo primero, de la Ley Orgánica sobre Estados de Excepción, referido al lapso de consideración en sesión especial; circunstancia que vulneró la legalidad procesal, la seguridad jurídica y el debido proceso consagrado en el artículo 49 Constitucional, pilares fundamentales del Estado Constitucional de Derecho, viciando de nulidad por inconstitucionalidad el proceso que culminó con el constitucionalmente írrito acuerdo dictado por la máxima representación del Poder Legislativo Nacional, el 22 de enero de 2016″.

      Se precisa que la decisión, que el lapso máximo para la consideración del Poder Legislativo es de ocho (8) días, pero para que la Asamblea pueda pronunciarse con posterioridad a las 48 horas indicadas en el párrafo inicial del artículo 27, debe cumplirse con la realización de la sesión especial, que además solo puede tratar ese único objeto –según el artículo 59 del Reglamento Interior y de Debates de la Asamblea Nacional- y, de ser necesario, acordar una prórroga debidamente justificada para considerar el decreto con posterioridad al aludido lapso, pero siempre dentro de los ocho (8) días, salvo caso fortuito o fuerza mayor.

      Concluyó de ese modo la Sala, que la Asamblea Nacional no cumplió oportunamente y, en fin, dentro de los límites constitucionales y legales, con el control político del referido decreto, al igual que reiteró que se realizó el control jurisdiccional del Decreto N 2.184 dentro del lapso contemplado en la Ley Orgánica sobre Estados de Excepción,

      Maybe it’s El Universal trying to whitewash the decision but there is nothing saying that the majority has to vote to approve it.

      I think…

      • The decision throws legalese spaghetti at various walls to try to see what sticks. All I did was pick out the craziest bit from a veritable cornucopia of crazy in the sentencia, but far from the only one. There’s a fun riff on the Constitution of 1961, which has a que-tiene-que-ver-el-culo-con-las-pestañas problem. The entire thing is crazy and shameless.

  10. Maduro es comunista, de estos de nacimiento y que ha sido entrenado en Cuba… El no va a desperdiciar la oportunidad que ha deseado toda su vida de implantarlo a cualquier precio, y sabe que no le queda mucho tiempo para hacerlo. De hecho es una de las pocas cosas que sabe. #LaSalida no se como vendrá, pero se que será desgraciadamente violenta.

  11. I hope the international community comes down on the Chavistas like a sledge hammer. As the country continues to melt down they will find that they cannot go it alone. That’s the leverage outsiders have in an obviously dictatorial decree. As mentioned, if the Chavistas are going to emasculate MUD, it’s now all on the red shirts. Verrrrrrg…..

    • The “international community” includes Russia and China, who will side with the Venezuelan regime, and have local cheerleaders in Ecuador and Bolivia. U.S.A. and Europe are ineffective at present: witness the pathetic handwringing over the disaster in Syria.

      • The Europeans as a unified group are pretty feckless and have been since people started using the term EU; the unification is in name only as the member nations pursue individual objectives. Think late 17th century HRE as a comparable; a few big states and a bunch of tiny ones with lots of lethargy.

        Meanwhile, chaos in Syria strengthens the US’s hand with its primary two allies to the south of said chaos, who have been a tad unruly in recent years. Airstrikes will not solve the issues there and despite having a hand in making the mess, the US is more than happy to let someone else clean it up. Geopolitical externalization at its finest.

        Russia remains an ally simply to extract cash for arms and antagonize what it views as its geopolitical enemy. China wants resources and will balk at any potential disruption to its access to said resources. Neither is a friend, but China may be the more approachable of the two.

        Either way, Venezuela is screwed by its own worst enemy: Venezuelans.

  12. Am no legal expert, but as far as I understand decisions of the Supreme Tribunal valid law for the future.
    How will they clean up after Chavismo? Declare all decisions taken by the TSJ between date a and date b null?

    • Basically you can turn into void & null any measure and decision taken by any bureaucrat who doesn’t have the proper legal butt to sit on.

      The current TSJ magistrates are allillegal, because chapodado’s NA couldn’t get the 2/3 to elect them, and because they didn’t respect the right time lapses for the election.

      Thus, any of their sentences could be rendered voind in a snap.

      And, if MUD or a post-chavizmo government wants to become really leonine or draconian, they can just go and declare that everything done in chavizmo after april 11 was illegal because the corpse resigned (using lucas rincón’s video as proof and threatening to toss him into a cell for 30 years for manslaughter as his speech “resulted in people in the streets that got killed”) and the process to act in that case wasn’t properly followed.

      There are so many loose ends on chavizmo that pulling a single string could cause it to unravel and cancel everything they’ve done in these 17 years.

    • ARTICLE 138…….”A usurped authority is of no effect, and its acts are null and void” This has been the constant theme of the President (proclamado por el Consejo Nacional Electoral, which is still in question), and the TSJ. These two bodies continuously usurp the functions of the AN. There is also question of the previous AN and the acts they rendered, such as the appointment of Magistartes of the TSJ in December, that continue to be questionable at best.

  13. See, this is what’s funny to me.

    At this stage, the removal of chavismo from power is a foregone conclusion, and everyone agrees on it. Sooner or later, these guys will lose the throne. We don’t know how the end is going to be, but we can see it from here.

    So why would chavismo do something like this when it’s living its worst moment? Their popularity is buried, there’s no money and the oppo is gaining ground. If you know your time is ticking, why do something that not only breaks the Constitution (breaking the law with all that it carries), but might even accelerate the removal of chavismo from power?

    Two answers spring to mind:

    1) They are “convinced men”. They really do believe they’re doing right and they hold the answers to this bloody mess in their hands… by keeping more control over the economy. They are de facto assuming the responsibility of the chaos;

    2) They are purposely causing the crisis. We know Chávez was good at this and in one specific instance, he provoked a serious crisis (recognizing years later that he did it on purpose) that had him temporarily removed from power. If PSUV is pushing the conflict, they believe that by betting this way, they can come out on top. With such little popularity, no money and congress in hands of the oppo, this seems like a huge bet. It speaks of poor political timing.

    I suppose time will tell us which one of the two is the right answer, but in any of those options it doesn’t bode well for them. The right course of action is being political, but by doing this they’re going in the opposite direction. Why? You tell me.

    • Reading Aporrea I get a sense that there are plenty of true believers, which reminds me what Aveledo said once (I paraphrase) “communist have misplaced their religious convictions in communism”.

      In December I, along with many in this blog, speculated that we would have a power vacuum a la Ceaușescu. This now seems too exotic. My prediction is that it will go as Allende.

      • I believe too that a guy like Luis Salas is a true believer. I mean, I’m positive that at this stage, many guys in the machine, not all, but many act stupid and say stupid things because they actually believe it. Ricardo Molina, unlike Godgiven, practices his philosophy (meaning, he’s legitimately stupid, the genuine article). Godgiven and Tania Diaz and others have business and long tentacles, but there are guys that have preached what is essentially Marxism for years.

        Maduro is one of them. Everything says he really is as simple as he looks like, so if there’s a power-play behind closed doors, if they’re provoking the crisis to gain more time or power, it looks like Godgiven, José Vicente or some other sick puppy with keen ambitions is behind it. The problem here is money. They may have a lot of money for themselves, but not enough to sustain the whole system. It’s a complex gambit but it’s probably the only one they have.

  14. At this point I can only assume they want an once de abril. If there are any rumblings of military involvement, I hope the AN stay true to HRA’s words: There is no such thing as a good coup. I can easily see a fake uprising happening just to tempt our own extremists into a Carmona moment.

    • It’s possible. They would be provoking a crisis to purge political enemies, get more time, get more power or all of those options.

      The problem with such a move is that it’s a riderless horse. They may not control the outcome and the political opposition must keep its eyes open (all of us, as society) to not fall in what may be another “ven a mí, que tengo flor”.

  15. First came the gas…now comes the shit….
    I find it fairly humorous that no one is looking at the larger picture here…….everyone’s so in the moment, trying to see the political picture…it’s a mistake.
    You where invaded by the island quite awhile ago..and you lost,or better yet…allowed yourselves to be handcuffed by Cubans in every aspect.
    This whole idea that Chavistas are trying to save themselves is what they want you to believe, think.
    Sorry,this is the Cuban long game. ..and it’s going to get more subversive, and audacious. …

  16. While I would love to read a legal analysis by a Venezuelan expert, in English (not Google Translate), I am not sure any of it would matter – the Courts of Venezuela are going to back executive decree power as firmly as they did in Nazi Germany.

    What I don’t understand is why the opposition has not accepted that reality long ago – democracy in Venezuela is a empty ritual, a without substance. The very idea of a sovereign’s decree power or an elected body is an immoral absurdity.

    The AN must bring this into some form of open revolt, or go home. Short of armed insurrection, the AN should line up its allies…beginning with Amnesty of Lopez and others. It has to then choose a popular issue and take to the streets – it has to force a crisis.

    The ONLY way to get the world’s attention, and outrage, is when the opposition has the guts to force Maduro to send in the tanks to destroy the elected Congress.

    Pillow fights won’t cut it.

  17. Other funny aspects

    From Art 34 of Ley de Estados de excepción the TSJ could not have considered the fact that the National Assembly said no to the President” proposal. So for starters, what they did was ilegal

    Artículo 34. La Sala Constitucional del Tribunal Supremo de Justicia omitirá todo
    pronunciamiento, si la Asamblea Nacional o la Comisión Delegada desaprobare el
    decreto de estado de excepción o denegare su prórroga, declarando extinguida la

  18. While a coup or violent act to restore the constitutional order might in practice be foolhardy and undesirable (and probably very difficult to implement) , following the argument that the article outlines it would be LEGAL, i.e it would be in full conformity with the Constitution .

    There is a technical catch however in that the decisions of the TSJ are ‘deemed’ valid and enforceable unless overthrown or superceded by another decision by the same court. This poses a catch 22 situation where you are dammed if you do and youre dammed if you dont . One might however argue that the unlawful manner in which the new TSJ was appointed might make such appointment null as from its inception in which case all its decisions are void and lacking in force. Would need the legal eagles to make their opinions known on this thorny set of issues.

    Dont believe that the fundamental problem is one of having the constitution contain provisions for its own defense and restoration but that there is no practical way of enforcing such provisions where all institutions which might enforce then have been taken over by those violating the constitution.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here