For Wednesday, March 2, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.
On Tuesday, the National Assembly was to discuss the report on the appointment of the Supreme Court’s justices, made on December 23, 2015. The PSUV decided to coordinate three events: their officials’ absence at the Parliamentary session, a protest before the Assembly’s building and a decision issued by the Supreme Tribunal’s Constitutional Chamber.
Ombudsman Tarek William Saab said on Twitter that his office requested the National Assembly to reschedule the presentation of their Memoria y Cuenta for 2015, without giving any reasons for the request but reaffirming their commitment to “communities and solicitors to keep defending Human Rights.” The minister for Electrical Energy, Luis Motta Domínguez, was also absent from his meeting with the Assembly’s mixed committee charged with evaluating solutions to the energy crisis. But they already knew about the Supreme Court’s decisions which justifies their absence and supports them.
First, the show
Deputy Francisco Torrealba had announced a march to “raise our voice against the Law on National Production’s first reading,” and the imminent risk of the MUD’s privatization strategy. It was the right time to talk about Camimpeg, Petromonagas in Russian hands and Orinoco’s mining belt, managed by Gold Reserve, but he didn’t.
However, the Canadian mining company announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Venezuela which includes: payment of the settlement they won before the ICSID, and transference of technical mining data made by Proyecto Brisas-Cristinas’ development company, a joint venture with 55% shareholding for Venezuela and 45% for Gold Reserve. The document adds plans to create a special economic zone for the company’s customs operations and other tax benefits. In summary: take the gold and the dollars, tax-free and through whatever port you choose. This happens as the country’s liquid International Reserves at the end of February stood at $523 millions, a decline of 79% compared to the start of the month, when they stood at $2.47 billion.
The superpower and its decision
“Venezuela is like a monarchy where only Chavez’s heirs have the right to rule,” said Margarita López Maya in an event organized by the NGO Espacio Público that took place this Monday night. The Constitutional Chamber’s eighty page decision seems to support her claims.
The National Assembly is the highest representative institution of people’s sovereignty and it has complete authority to oversee other powers. This new effort to raise the Constitutional Chamber to a superpower that interprets and modifies the Constitution, and also presumes to change the judicial system’s foundations is unacceptable, on par with the challenge against Amazonas’ elected deputies and the imposition of the Decree of Economic Emergency. Three coups against the National Assembly’s faculties.
The show must go on
The madness of deputies Héctor Rodríguez and Francisco Torrealba was enough for them to make a show, complete with a joropo duel for PSUV protesters standing in front of Parliament. The bet: who would give the most desperate arguments against the institution to which they were elected.
“We’ll protest until this National Assembly falls,” said Rodríguez, and won. Once more, the National Guard showed who controls them by remaining idle even when the Assembly’s security perimeter was breached by protesters chanting: “Y va caer, y va a caer, esta Asamblea va a caer” and calling opposition deputies “sifrinos de mierda.”
The PSUV clearly never acknowledged their defeat on December 6, they can’t stand it. They confirm the date of their foundation (4F) because they believe in coups d’etat, because institutions are an obstacle, and that’s why they consider it legitimate to rearrange them as many times as necessary. That’s why they organize malandros outside the Assembly and then enter the meetings with empty arguments. Someone must control Rodríguez’s desperate ambitions of power.
Back to the decision
The Constitutional Chamber works as if it was a Constituent Power. Every new sentence slowly creates a parallel Constitution, usurping popular sovereignty, which elected deputies as their representatives.
Instead of dissolving Parliament, the PSUV refuses to acknowledge its authority, while they claim that will guarantee the balance of powers. Some of the most dire aspects of this decision are:
- Nullifying article 113 of Parliament’s Rules of Procedure, which establishes the rules for questioning, limiting the Assembly’s comptroller faculties.
- Relieving these posts from the Assembly’s political oversight: the General Attorney, the Ombudsman, the Comptroller and the Electoral Council, as well as the Armed Forces. The Assembly must call those it needs to question by coordinating with the Vice-Presidency, which breaches Parliament’s autonomy and makes oversight absurd. Moreover, it eliminates the Assembly’s capacity to penalize officials who don’t answer the call, breaching the principle of accountability for public officials.
- Declaring that the Special Committee created to investigate the appointment of justices on December 2015, is “irrevocably and absolutely null.” Consequently, the Assembly cannot nullify those appointments.
- The Assembly must understand that “the non-disclosure of information that could harm the Republic’s stability”; that is to say, officials may choose not to disclose information arguing the defense of national stability.
- The two thirds of the Assembly must now be 112 instead of 109!
Nicolás called another useless cadena to talk about the achievements only existing in their propaganda. He lives in Notipatria (those failures that praise the Armed Forces far more than they praise him,) not in Venezuela. His best message is that he can say “looking people in the eye,” that these last three years have been loyal to el finado’s legacy. But those are are desperate to have a stable water supply and electrical service; to find food and medicines; to not waste away.
And now what?
This is an institutional conflict of enormous proportions. The Supreme Court only cares to block the Legislative Power with the Constitutional Champ as a superpower, substituting people’s will.
Nobody controls the Constitutional Chamber and yet every one of its member is in question. Nullifying the National Assembly’s authorities and stonewalling their decisions violates the Constitution, destroys what’s left of democracy and kills people’s representation.
Ramos Allup confessed that this permanent situation of tension worries him: “If there’s collapse, nobody knows what could happen,” he said. I’m instead worried by the increasing absurdity of the Executive Branch’s actions and all the powers under its control, versus the MUD’s and the Assembly’s response. There’s an abundance of reasons to oppose this barbarity, to speed up any procedures.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.