Logic dictates that the couple of rulings issued by the TSJ’s Constitutional Chamber would help chavismo be expelled from the international institutions of which they no longer want to be a part of anyways, inspired by the Cubans, so they may hold onto power isolated from the world.
Although for Foreign minister Delcy Rodríguez, criticism of the TSJ’s orders is evidence of foreign interference, there was a veritable avalanche of it from the international community against the government this Tuesday. Several Latin American countries (Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama,) along with the United States and the European Union, denounced the breakdown of democratic rules; and while Peru removed their ambassador from Caracas, denouncing, like Brazil, the violation of the breakdown of constitutional order, president Michelle Bachelet called her ambassador for consultation and Costa Rica’s Legislative Chamber requested the application of the OAS’s Inter American Democratic Charter on Venezuela. But there’s always compensation, that’s why president Tabaré Vázquez prefers to wait and the super mediator of the dialogue that hasn’t happened, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, doesn’t see the severity of the orders.
What’s this contempt about?
The PSUV denounced electoral fraud in Amazonas state after the legislative elections of December 6th, 2015, because according to them, people were allegedly paid to vote for opposition candidates and the TSJ suspended the proclamation of these lawmakers.
The National Assembly swore them in, completing the opposition majority (two thirds of legislators) in Parliament, and the TSJ declared the AN was in contempt of court and ruled that its decisions would be null and void. Weeks later, the opposition reached an agreement and Parliament’s Board unceremoniously removed the three Amazonas lawmakers without any investigation on fraud claims, but the Constitutional Chamber demanded that the removal had to be formally declared by Agreement, a scheme to keep the AN in contempt for political rather than legal reasons.
Tearing apart a copy of the ruling, National Assembly Speaker Julio Borges said: “This National Assembly dismisses the TSJ. Those justices were appointed to violate the Constitution. That’s why the 112 lawmakers want to make it clear that this Parliament rebels against this decision. Any order contrary to the Constitution is null.” He requested international aid for the country, to guarantee gubernatorial, municipal and also general elections so that the country can get rid of this dictatorship. He urged the Armed Forces not to remain silent before the ongoing violation of the Constitution and called for street protests starting this Saturday.
OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro issued a statement denouncing the self-coup d’État perpetrated by the Venezuelan regime against the National Assembly, the last of the public branches to be legitimately elected by popular vote. In his statement, he points out that “restoring democracy is the responsibility of all American nations,” saying that the region has a debt to Venezuelans that forces the countries to act without delay. “Remaining silent before a dictatorship is politics’ lowest indignity,” he wrote. The Secretary General said that, in accordance with article 20 of the Democratic Charter, a Permanent Council meeting must be urgently called. A key detail: if the Permanent Council doesn’t meet today, the session will be presided by Bolivia, one of the Venezuelan government’s most subservient partners, who will strongly oppose any meetings that chavismo doesn’t want.
A group of lawmakers went to the TSJ to protest. While they ripped apart several copies of the ruling, a National Guard contingent attacked them to make them go away. The clash included people that claimed to be residents of nearby La Pastora neighborhood, who insulted, attacked and threw water at the lawmakers while chanting “here’s the people defending the revolution;” a Capitolio TV employee was injured in the head by a rock thrown by one of the civilians. Lawmaker Juan Requesens promised the attackers that Parliament will continue fighting for them, while Marco Bozo promised to “keep fighting day and night fearlessly to achieve change in Venezuela.”
Cabello asked chavista militants in Monagas to prepare to defend the country against an eventual military intervention promoted by imperialism and internal enemies: “We must prepare to defend our country (…) to defend even these dissents who are madly asking for a military intervention in Venezuela.” He called on the people to unite more than ever because “anyone who betrays our country in case of conflict, must be treated like an enemy,” so he urged every PSUV regional headquarters to organize the population and turn every person into a soldier. Thus, chavismo eliminates any institutional venue to resolve the conflict, leaning on violence, the sphere that they supposedly control.
We must tirelessly insist on this: the Constitutional Chamber can’t assume the National Assembly’s authority, not even if this excuse of contempt was valid. The National Assembly is constitutionally vested with that authority because it represents the Venezuelan people, while the Constitutional Chamber has no democratic origin and consequently, it doesn’t represent the people. The idea is to prevent the opposition from exercising the role for which it was elected into office. Demanding the application of the Democratic Charter isn’t treason —a crime punishable with up to 30 years in prison— and this latest ruling’s economic motives are key to understanding this severe imbalance, because the government desperately needs financing to ease the severe fiscal gap they’ve created and they won’t be able to do it with Parliament’s control. It’s not a coincidence that yesterday, Nicolás decorated the President of the CAF. An aside: several chavista texts claim that this whole mess started because the Assembly refused to cooperate with the Executive Branch “to solve the country’s serious situation.” Look how they admit the crisis.
This Friday, Delcy Rodríguez was summoned to an event in the TSJ in support for the Constitutional Chamber’s order, along with the entire Diplomatic Body. It’ll be interesting to measure this support, because international reactions (at the individual, collective and institutional levels) keep pouring in.