There is an old saying in Venezuela: “you can’t kill a donkey by pinching it to death.”
I was thinking about this the other day while reading Henrique Capriles’ interesting interview with El Estímulo. Capriles makes a compelling case for the Recall Referendum, saying that this was his preferred option because any constitutional amendment shortening Maduro’s terms will be shot down by the Supreme Tribunal.
“The amendment will be stopped by the court, Maduro is not going to resign, and a Constitutional Assembly is a much larger and trickier process.”
The obvious question here is: if the court will strike anything down, why won’t it shoot down the Recall Referendum? Following this logic, isn’t the TSJ the main problem? Why not deal with them first?
I thought about this again today, when reading about the Amnesty Law approved on Tuesday by the National Assembly. Of course, the legislature was right to pass amnesty for political prisoners. Of course, chavista goons in the courts will shoot it down.
What will we do then?
It is no exaggeration to say the Supreme Tribunal is the main safeguard of Maduro’s power. The court’s last few sentences – including one saying that Maduro’s economic decree, twice rejected by the National Assembly, is legal and valid – are a clear indication that the court will rule to protect Maduro at all costs, even by taking over legislative powers from a legitimate National Assembly.
Does this mean the TSJ must be changed before anything else changes in Venezuela?
This is a question of the utmost importance. If ridding the country of the TSJ is a sine-qua-non condition for changing the government, then how exactly can we go about doing this without it being a coup? How can you change the TSJ without dirtying your paws with the same policy choices we have been criticizing for years?
Perhaps we don’t need to sell our souls in order to gain power, as Raúl put it recently. Perhaps once Maduro is removed via constitutional means, the TSJ will line up and begin ruling like a normal court would rule.
The TSJ is the main column holding up the dangling rancho that is the Maduro government. Many believe that you need to take them out, and the proverbial house of cards will collapse.
And yet nobody in the opposition is proposing a plausible way to deal with this problem, nor is it clear that they should.
To be honest, I don’t know how to solve this situation. What I do know is that the latest IVAD poll says that Venezuelans reject the Supreme Tribunal 63-33. If the decision is made to deal with the TSJ, it would need to be supported by the main weapon the opposition has – the will of a majority of the people.
Bring this discussion to your sobremesa, and let me know what people say.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.