To appeal, that noble transitive verb that entails urging someone to do (or avoid doing) something, is not synonymous of ordering. Appealing means presenting reasons or plights that the interlocutor should technically ponder before making a decision.
A few minutes past midnight, Nicolás announced the resolution of the coup d’État —which he chose to call an “impasse”— thanks to the bona fides of the National Defense Council, an advisory institution that has no faculties on this matter. It was the best he could come up with to try and mend a mistake they didn’t think would be so costly.
The Judiciary’s independence
The Supreme Tribunal of Justice’s Constitutional Chamber took merely eight hours to reach a joint decision regarding the breakdown of the constitutional order and decide to restore the National Assembly’s legislative authority with rulings 157 and 158, which modify the previous rulings 155 and 156, those which the General Prosecutor criticized but that Hermann Escarrá and Isaías Rodríguez found totally legal. So far, the TSJ has only published the technical briefings of these amendments.
It eliminates provision 5.1.1 from ruling 155, which ordered Nicolás to exercise whatever international measures he deemed appropriate and necessary to safeguard the constitutional order; the civil, economic, military, criminal, administrative, political, judicial and social measures he deemed adequate to avoid a state of commotion and to review the legislation to “overcome the risks that threaten democratic stability, peaceful cohabitation and the rights of Venezuelans.” This amendment also eliminates all mentions of parliamentary immunity and the decisions taken against it, restoring lawmakers’ faculties, but it says nothing about the parliamentary omission due to the alleged contempt and, even more relevant, it doesn’t eliminate the faculties granted to Nicolás to create mixed companies without the National Assembly’s oversight. Go go go, Rosneft!
It eliminates 4.4 from ruling 156, which transferred the National Assembly’s powers to the Constitutional Chamber: “As long as the situation of contempt persists and the National Assembly’s acts are invalid, the Constitutional Chamber will guarantee that parliamentary powers will be exercised by this Chamber or by the institution that the Chamber chooses, to protect the Rule of Law.”
It’s obvious that the coup d’État didn’t start with TSJ’s rulings 155 and 156, so it won’t end with rulings 157 and 158 ordered by a security advisory institution controlled by the Executive Branch, an action that serves as further evidence of non-existent independence of public powers in Venezuela. These amendments do nothing to restitute the Rule of Law, but on top of that, admitting the facts doesn’t relieve them of responsibility. Constitutional Chamber’s justices should resign immediately for this “mistake,” but they won’t. It falls on the General Prosecutor to open investigations and establish criminal responsibilities.
With rulings 155 and 156 and the breakdown of the constitutional order perpetrated through them, ambassadors in the region were removed, there was solid protest from the international community and two international institutions of which Venezuela is a member (The OAS and Mercosur) called for emergency meetings to discuss our political situation which, among other barbarities, leaves lawmakers, journalists and students unjustly attacked by the National Guard and PSUV’s paramilitary groups; destroyed journalistic equipment and material, arrested citizens and a country on edge. TSJ’s head Maikel Moreno is scheduled to issue a statement soon about the situation, but I’ll be at Plaza Brión.
Aside from this, after surviving that terrible incident in Margarita, the pran Wilmito (Wilmer Brizuela) was shot to death in Tocorón prison. My love to Iris Varela.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.