The last few months have taught us that the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Tribunal is the main tool the government has to sustain some form of institutional legitimacy. But it’s surprising that, given their importance, we know so little of who these people are.
El Estímulo recently did an excellent job of breaking down parts of these people’s bios. As you can imagine, the picture that emerges is that of a hyperpartisan judiciary, willing to go to any length to protect the revolution.
One can distinguish two groups within the Constitutional Chamber. The first is a group of second-rate lawyers who, by virtue of their connections and previous political work for the revolution, got to the top court in the land. They are:
- Gladys Gutiérrez, former lawyer for the government, former legislator, and former Ambassador, and current President of the court;
- Juan José Mendoza, also a former legislator for the government;
- Calixto Ortega, former legislator, and former envoy to the United States;
- Lourdes Suárez Anderson, the sister of former prosecutor (and “martyr for the revolution“) Danilo Anderson; and
- Luis Damiani Bustillos, former member of the Cabinet and (gulp!) Provost of the “Bolivarian University”.
The second group consists of two lawyers who have actually studied the law and provide the Chamber with some intellectual gravitas, but nonetheless have shown themselves to have drunk the revolutionary Kool-Aid (with a dash of Nazism, by the way). They are:
- Carmen Zuleta de Merchán, a specialist in gender violence who believs that Venezuela is on the cutting edge with regards to protecting women; and
- Arcadio Delgado, who thinks the Constitution accepts socialism, thinks chavismo is sort of like a European welfare state, and is a fan of Nazi philosopher Carl Schmitt.
These are your judges, folks. Without fear of exaggerating, these are the people who control the fate of the nation.