Unconstitutional, actually.


For Tuesday, April 12, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Following orders

This Monday, the Supreme Tribunal’s Constitutional Chamber issued the decision ordered by Nicolás’ cadena on April 7: they declared the Law of Amnesty and National Reconciliation, approved by the National Assembly on March 29, as unconstitutional. This is the tenth decision that the Supreme Tribunal issues disrespecting the will of Venezuelan voters who elected the current Parliament.

The decision uses more political than judicial arguments to nullify the law, they mention the Inter-American Court of Human Rights -despite the fact that the Venezuelan government hasn’t complied with its decisions in years-, they even quote the Bible! According to the document, the law violates the principles of jurisprudence, legality, justice, responsibility and sovereignty; but the true irony is that they say the law’s articles supposedly “ignore the fact that Venezuela is a democratic State based on the Rule of Law and Justice.” I won’t say more.

Fourteen years

Nicolás has a heavily edited narration of the events of April 11, 2002. He considers himself another victim of the ambush, of “a criminal coup d’etat financed by Washington,” and that’s why he said that he won’t allow the imperio to dishonor the people. That’s what chavismo and their failed economic model are for. They don’t rectify despite the humanitarian crisis we’re going through and still, he’s surprised that the U.S. hasn’t changed their policy toward Venezuela.

During the cadena he told Obama that promoting a policy of instability in Venezuela and the economic war against his government, is one of the biggest mistakes of his life. He attacked Henrique Capriles a bit more, accusing him of inciting crime, of being cynical and hating women. When his audience yelled “marico”, he smiled and asked them not to say that. He thanked PSUV supporters who participated in his show for defending Miraflores with their blood, while he called for hope and commitment because today Venezuelan children have “security for the future.” Without food, medicine or medical supplies. He announced the creation, this Tuesday, of a State Commission for Truth to erase the Law of Amnesty and National Reconciliation, a law that would create conditions for violence and chaos if it were approved, according to him. Because right now we live in enviable peace.

Henrique Capriles answered to Nicolás’ accusations with a tweet: “To Maduro, before you speak make sure your words are better than silence. Provide evidence for your irresponsible accusations!”

Knocking on Padrino López’s door

Vladimir Padrino López also took the opportunity for the fourteenth anniversary of the coup d’etat to give us more lessons on politics as an active member of the PSUV, saying that the event left examples of civil-military union, of condemning violence, of civil and constitutional conscience; and contrary to popular strength, golpistas’ actions left “the mark of treason, deceit, media manipulation and desire for power,” the complete opposite of what his words inspire on the microphone.

Speaking about his political greed, the NGO Control Ciudadano requested the National Assembly to approve a vote of no confidence against the minister of Defense, supported on number 10 of article 187 of the Constitution: “the aforementioned minister is an active member of the army, subject to the obligation of upholding and defending the Constitution, which he has repeatedly violated as documented by this organization, by assuming a partisan political posture, which the National Armed Forces are banned from doing, by articles 328 and 330 of the Constitution.”

The approval of this request requires the favorable vote of three fifths of the deputies and means the official’s removal from his post without the possibility to opt for it again for the remainder of the presidential term.

Gradual increase

During a meeting with farmers, Aristóbulo Istúriz said that there are many products with outdated prices, both goods and services, and raw materials. He informed that in the next few days, new prices will be announced for several products, with which they expect to adjust to production costs and thus improve national production: “We’re not against profit, that’s why we made a Law on Fair Prices. Venezuela is the only country in the world where profit margins are up to 30% (…) we have to update prices (…) that’s why we’re creating a new system to increase prices, but gradually, starting with the most outdated products,” he said.

Another cadena

Esa Asamblea fascista con puro disimulo, agarra su amnistía y se la mete por el culo. ¡Uh! ¡Ah! Maduro no se va”, the audience chanted. I don’t know if they were workers like Nicolás said, but they were clearly well-paid showmen, they had musical instruments, rehearsed phrases, they had rhythm, they applauded and whistled. The only relevant aspect of today’s second cadena was the announcement of the creation of the 15 engine for basic, strategic and socialist industries -despite the fact that the first 14 engines are out of service- with its respective ministry and minister: Juan Arias.

Each of the state-controlled companies that Nicolás mentioned is bankrupt and still he spoke of privatization as the worst that could happen to them. In another fit of inspiration he decided to create Worker Boards of Directors in government-controlled companies to “underpin a productive plan” -working part-time and with free Fridays-, while the remaining months of 2016 pass and Tibisay keeps making the Recall Referendum impossible. Nicolás also gave personal development lessons: “We can do it, with will, the 14 engines and committed workers. Of course we can do it!”, without electricity or water, but with optimism.

He read the Supreme Tribunal’s decision again with the satisfaction of a task fulfilled and he hopes that the opposition will be a part of the State Commission for Truth that he created to bury the Amnesty Law. There are no limits to this guy’s nerve.

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  1. The disgust I feel while reading this asshole’s words is beyond comprehension. My breakfast has been ruined. Moreover, the sheer institutionalized homophobia that is so entrenched in out culture is a sad reminder of why Colombia continues to become the country we once aspired to be.

  2. Tantas mofas que hizo Francisco Toro sobre mi opinión acerca de lo inservible de la “victoria” del 6D.

    Ahora cada una de las cosas que le dije se cumplen.

    Deberían contratarme como editor.

  3. “This is the tenth decision that the Supreme Court issues disrespecting the will of Venezuelan voters who elected the current Parliament”…

    I don’t know exactly what the Supreme Court in VZ does. But typically the principal duty of a supreme court is act as a check against the legislative branch. The strategy is to strike down laws that, in their opinion, violate the constitution.

    So it sounds like they are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing.

    I’m sure the VZ constitution has provisions for how to change it. If the voters want laws that violate the current constitution, then they must first change the constitution.

    Being elected to the legislative body does not give any the right to violate the constraints and duties spelled out in the constitution.

    • Excuse me, but what planet did you arrive from? Either that or you have been locked in a closet without any light or access to any news or information for the last 17 years. Enough said.

    • Strangely they have NEVER found unconstitutional any law passed by the previous legislature or chavez and maduro (via habilitante). Strange.

    • Right on, RL!

      Only the executive and judicial branches, plus the military, intelligence community, police, and colectivos have the right to wipe their behinds with the constitution.

    • Way to troll…. or, innocently comment about something you’re clearly hopelessly ignorant of. One of the two. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, and very briefly respond.

      Everything you wrote about the role of a supreme court is TRUE. Except you assume that “the supreme court made a ruling, ergo, they are doing their job”. That assumption is openly and disgustingly false in Venezuela, where you have admitted to having no knowledge of.

      HERE, the Supreme court rules a law constitutional if it suites their party purpose, or unconstitutional if it doesn’t suit their party purpose. Since there is no one to override them, the justification for said rulings is flimsy or nonexistent in many cases. The decision is made simply on the basis and logic of “because I said so”.

      Lets take today’s article for example. “The decision uses more political than judicial arguments to nullify the law”. I would remind you that the supreme court is not tasked with writing law, nor with making moral arguments. Their task is to INTERPRET THE CONSTITUTION, irregardless of the morality or politics contained within it.

      Sadly, most Venezuelans today wish very much their supreme court would function as you have described, sticking exclusively to legal interpretation of the constitution.

    • Like FrankP, I will this one time give you the benefit of the doubt. The existing Supreme Court has been stacked by the Chavista regime by “jurists” who are openly partisan and who are utterly beholden to the regime. Their function is solely to bestow the appearance of constitutionality upon the regime in the eyes of casual and uninformed observers, or the willfully blind. Which category do wish to lay claim to? Think hard before answering.

    • In my defense, I didn’t say that the court doesn’t do their job very well. Their decisions may be driven by political reasons versus constitutional reasons.

      Here in the US, our Supreme Court cranks out some horrible decisions that really make you wonder what the hell they were smoking. For example, the Dred Scott decision. The Hobby Lobby decision, etc.

      The point I was trying to make is that they have a duty to strike down unconstitutional laws. And that popular opinion of the law being questioned is not supposed to factor in their decision. The complaint was that the court voided a law that was popular, and the author complained they they had done so. I was only pointing out that the court has the right and the duty to do just that.

      • Ron, can I ask how closely you have been following the situation in Venezuela? The article recommended above by Boludo Tejano is really well worth your time.

        TSJ is not a body of impartial, intellectually solid and professionally competent justices. They are partisan hacks carrying water for the Party/Regime.

        TSJ is not a court that occasionally “cranks out some horrible decisions,” with “horrible” depending on your political point of view.

        For example:

        U.S. progressives think the Hobby Lobby decision was “horrible,” while U.S. conservatives think the Obergefell decision was “horrible,” but (I think) very few people left or right viewed either decision as inevitable. Same with Obamacare. The President and his staff won but had to sweat it out waiting for that decision; they couldn’t count on a packed court taking orders from the oval office.

        In all three cases there were dissenting justices who provided written, detailed, and very passionately argued explanations of their reasons for having dissented. Put aside for the moment whether you agree with the decisions or the dissents in these cases; the point is that there WERE dissents, and none of the justices were forced to retire (or imprisoned!!) for having dissented.

        In contrast, TSJ is a court that has ruled in favor of the chavista government 45,475 times out of 45,475. In the light of this fact, what serious argument can be made that TSJ is fulfilling their “right and duty” to defend the constitution?

        When an umpire calls strikes on every pitch for one team, even when the pitcher hits the batter in the head, you can’t respond to people who complain about it by saying “Well, that’s the umpire’s job, he’s got to call it the way he sees it regardless of how the batting team or the crowd feel about it…”

        The author’s point is valid. When 100% of the executive’s actions are ruled constitutional, and 100% of the legislature’s actions are ruled unconstitutional, TSJ annuls an entire branch of government. In so doing they have indeed violated the public will in a brazen and shameful manner.

        • I try to follow it. I’ve never been there and I don’t know anyone there. There are plenty of crisis all over the planet that I try to follow as best I can.

          Yes, I am aware that this court is not fulfilling their duty by staying above politics. Once again, I was just trying to point out what they did is not unconstitutional. It was partisan. It was wrong. They aren’t doing their job right.

          Your analogy of the baseball umpire is very appropriate. The response should be the same. They should be fired.

          But until they are fired, they continue have the right to abuse their position for political gains.

          To me, this leaves only one question. How do the citizens get these jurist fired for their clear incompetence?

          In the US the process is spelled out in the constitution. it requires an impeachment and conviction from the houses of congress. Perhaps VZ has similar remedies in their constitution. Time to use them.

          • Very difficult when, per TSJ, 100% of all decisions made by MUD-controlled AN are ipso facto unconstitutional.

            Ron, I think you’ve come to the right place to get up to speed on Venezuela if you really want to understand what is happening there. The article referenced by Boludo Tejano is a good place to start.

            I would also recommend Googling Judge Lourdes Afiuni. She had the audacity to adhere to Venezuelan law in a particular case and spent years in prison because of it. Her case is only one of thousands of surreal stories out of Venezuela, but it is very instructive in terms of the current state of Venezuelan institutions.

            Your commitment to the rule of law is admirable but in Venezuela there is no rule of law, separation of powers, judicial independence, etc. Only an in-your-face-yeah-we-run-things-here-now-shut-up-and-take-it arrogance on the part of the chavista elite, even as they paint themselves as the righteous saviors of the Venezuelan poor.

            Meanwhile most Venezuelans live in misery, standing in line for hours for basic staples which may or may not still be available when they finally enter the store, trying to avoid getting into fistfights in said lines, suffering 700+% inflation, regular blackouts, lack of clean water, a zika crisis for which the gvmt gives no information, and just generally trying to stay alive in the most violent country on earth that is not in a state of declared war.

            I sincerely apologize for the abrasiveness of my initial comments. If others here also seem a bit prickly, often it is because they are Venezuelans who have been living this reality every day for years, or have managed to get out but who have left behind family members that are suffering daily misery and fear. You can imagine the frustration of having a family member diagnosed with a cancer that is treatable in any other country but a virtual death sentence in Venezuela b/c the medicines to treat them just aren’t there – or are available only on the black market for an exorbitant price. So the suggestion that the TSJ is just doing their job is going to draw a reaction.

            If you’re here to learn about, or at least familiarize yourself with Venezuela, I say welcome. CC is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to getting non-Venezuelans (like me) up to speed and explaining things in a digestible way. Also a lot of the commenters here are extremely knowledgeable – I think I’ve learned as much from the comment threads as from the articles.

            I would recommend, however, remembering that you are entering a community of folks who are very close to what is happening there and to therefore measure comments appropriately. In my experience these are very good folks and will certainly welcome you if you a curious soul who is simply looking to understand.

      • Wow. Talk about a creative job hunt for a rocket ride to the top! But I gotta tell you, Maduro isn’t hiring, and I don’t think he’d put you on the TSJ even if he were. You lack commitment. You waffle. You lack conviction. Your views are disgustingly impartial, and I get a feeling red just isn’t your color. However, you might think about Greece, Spain, or even France, where your civilized skill in defending the undefendable might be applauded even though they don’t pay as well. Brazil is another possibility. But forget about the TSJ, man – by their standards you’re distinctly second rate. They’re looking for “The TSJ is the only truly legitimate court in the world today and will stand strong and macho against the unlawful despicable imperialist aggression against human rights and justice for all, setting an example and thumbing its nose at the corruption and degradation of the so-called free world led by the unconstitutional oppressor Obama.” Something like that.

  4. These TSJ decisions are so transparently absurd and subservient to the regime that they are becoming rotund proof that there is no rule of law in Venezuela , that the TSJ lacks any autonomy , if the AN ever decides to bring the issue of Venezuela having become a dictatorship before an international forum, these decisions will make it much easier to prove its case. Anyone reading them can have no doubt as to their slanted political intent. Add to that the TSJ´s cavalier treatment of the Amazonas legislators and you have a very clear picture that the TSJ is a subordinate vehicle to do the regimes bidding !!

  5. Of course these “Supreme Court” decisions basically provide a screen of legality for low-information citizens and pendejos sin fronteras. Anyone who thinks about it for five seconds will recall that courts make decisions based upon evidence, after inviting oral and written argument.

    In a “court” lawyers offer competing versions of the relevant legal principle, and judges are required to listen before deciding. This rule”Audi alteram partem” has defined a court’s obligation for the last five hundred years.

    These elements of procedural justice are core attributes of a “court”. Releasing a “decision” before hearing evidence and argument is utterly contradictory. If you do it that way, you are no court.

  6. So, substantively, the National Assembly ordered an amnesty. Our friends on the “court” say this is unconstitutional. So what does the Constitution say?

    “Article 187: It shall be the function of the National Assembly:

    5) To order amnesties.”

    It’s pretty hard to spin that.

  7. Who would have ever imagined that the best jurists in Venezuelan history are Maduro and Chavez, none of their hundreds of laws have ever been found unconstitutional, absolute perfection.
    Not bad for a couple of guys who can barely read and write.

  8. The regime’s real Constitution consists of only two provisions :
    1. Always do as the boss says .
    2. Any one not doing what the boss says must be either pushed aside or sent to jail. !!

    Not much legal brilliance is needed to apply this Constitution !!

  9. A famous army leader of the spanish civil war once said that whenever someone mentioned the spirit of anything he felt a sudden impulse to go for his gun………!! Invoking the spirit of the law is one way of simply ignoring what the law specifically says and substitute it for something that the interpreter would have preferred to have been said ………!!

    Having said that there are some notable legal scholars who have argued for the ocassional need to interpret legal texts by reference to something that transcends it , among them Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Problem with these decisions si that the spirit that serves to inspire them is the spirit of fanatical malevolence, one which has no place in the adjudicationf of justice. !!


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