It’s a moment I dread. The Venezuelan Supreme Tribunal (TSJ) puts out some hideous aberration of a decision. I’m a lawyer. It’s a given people are going to ask me about it.

Oy vey.

So there I sit, and try to somehow rationalize the incoherent mess of an argumentation the justices put out, often plainly contradicting the text of the Venezuelan constitution and laws. It’s never quite clear what’s expected of me. I usually mutter a half-hearted “yes, this is serious” or casually drop a criollo ¡qué bolas!

Take Haringhtongate, the latest episode. Paving the way for the ouster of rogue erstwhile chavista Prosecutor General Luisa Ortega Díaz, the TSJ had annulled her appointment of Rafael González Arias as Deputy Prosecutor General (aka the person who would become Prosecutor General if she’s ousted). It then appointed Katherine Haringhton, a presumed Maduro loyalist, as Deputy Prosecutor General instead. Plainly, the Supreme Tribunal has nothing like the authority to appoint… but see, I was about to do it again.

It doesn’t matter when you read this. As long as chavismo is in power, it will remain accurate.

Haringhton’s appointment itself was a scandal, but it’s what happened after that brought me my moment of clarity. Flustered by Ortega Díaz to let her access the Prosecutor General’s offices, Haringhton a person who presumably grasps she’s on the cusp of becoming the head of a major Venezuelan state entity decided the logical thing to do would be to sneak into the office stowed away in the trunk of a car, like the #TropicalMierda version of a Tarantino movie.

I’d kept up the mad charade until now, but the sheer ludicrousness of the Harrington episode is the moment this whole thing jumped the shark for me. Devoting my legal training to parsing the monstrosities of TSJ is a kind of insult to the scholars who taught me the law. Instead, what we need are some general interpretative guidelines a permaguide to TSJ insanity.

It doesn’t matter when you read this. As long as chavismo is in power, it will remain accurate.

Practical Guide to Interpreting

the next Mad TSJ Decision

  • Does the decision plainly misinterpret o disregard  the constitution on purpose to favor chavismo?

Yes, all decisions are taken with complete disregard of what the constitution actually reads, and there is no shame in expressly contradicting it by using plainly idiotic arguments or quoting Nazis.

  • Are there any coherent and respected legal theories out there that might make sense of this decision?


  • Are they gonna be interpreted arbitrarily and violently enforced?

Yes, they will, even if that entails hiding a middle-aged woman in the trunk of a car.

  • Will there be an international backlash to it?

Not really, Venezuela left legal Kansas many years ago. The international community is well aware of the autocratic nature of chavismo. Look: Venezuela stopped been a liberal democracy many years ago. The international community knows it, its refusal to do something meaningful about it is down to pragmatic cynicism, alongside the historic double standard that judges left wing governments much more leniently than centrist or conservative one and rhetorically overstated fears about stability in the region. It’s not that they’re under any delusion about the vitality of democracy in our country it’s that they can’t be bothered to do anything about its collapse.

That’s as much legal analysis as you’ll get out of me with regard to this TSJ. To grant the TSJ the privilege of our detailed legal attention is to implicitly accept it as a real tribunal even if a flawed one. But TSJ is no such thing. To treat it as such is to muddy the waters.

All decisions are taken with complete disregard of what the constitution actually reads.

There’s no point pretending. There’s nothing remotely related to the administration of justice in the decisions the TSJ has been handing down. Maybe Adriana Azzi is a better fit. Heck, probably a profiler of sociopaths can help you more than I can.

I’m out. It may not amount to much, but it’s what I can do for civil disobedience. I can stop pretending. It’s time we all did.

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  1. The nazi thing was really crazy. That’s when it hit home that it’s not about pretending o follow legal procedure, but a sort of creative writing contest where anything legaly sounding goes.

  2. “Who were the fools who spread the story that brute force cannot kill ideas? Nothing is easier. And once they are dead they are no more than corpses.”

    Simone Weil

  3. Is Haringthon a Tropical Mierda spelling of Harrington (which, itself, would be the bastardization of English(man) with criolla)? Although Venezuela left legal Kansas long ago, the Wizard would be quite pleased with the way the TSJ operates.

  4. What’s puzzling s that about 50% of the entire population still declares itself Chavista ! And about 20% still is Madurista.. Even with this complete disregard for the Constitution, the blatant corruption of the TSJ, the regime, the military. Even when hungry, with no medicines or public services.

    Draw your own conclusions..

  5. Desobediencia civil is a very personal fight! I refused to renew passports as on as I left the country. Did not buy cadivi dollars ever, and tried to be self aware of the bastardized newspeak daily spited by the nomenklatura and its spin masters. Venezuela needs lawyers who take a stand, citizens who just plainly stop paying taxes, following traffic rules, respecting authority ( wait that sounds like normal Venezuela again!) and more ” casco por esa jeta! Activism….

    I commend the spirit of this post. Hasta cuando!

  6. Ive a lawyer friend who told me he no longer reads these decisions because they cause him indigestion , he vouches that reading them has a physical effect on his stomach , they are so blatantly grotesque that even to read them is like getting kicked in the stomach , guess this is the same response as the author of this piece describes ………there is in them not even a minimal pretense at observing any form however primitive of legal reasoning ………!! They may be enforced by the govt but they lack absolutely any legal ground whatsoever…..!!


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