Venezuela leader urges court to review ruling on congress

Kristopher Drake
April 14, 2017

An opposition supporter holds a placard depicting Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro that reads "No more dictatorship". Security forces violently repress.

National Assembly President Julio Borges balls up Supreme Court documents ruling that it can take over responsibilities assigned to congress, during a press conference at the National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, March 30.

The government argues that the latest ruling did not seek to supplant congress but rather to guarantee the rule of law as long as legislators remain obstructionist by refusing to sign off on a budget and key economic decisions like a plan by Venezuela's state-run oil company to form joint ventures with private companies, including Russia's Rosneft. Opposition leaders dismissed the reversal as too little too late.

Maduro's opponents have called on Venezuelans to take to the streets Saturday and urged the army to abandon him, branding moves to consolidate his power a coup d'etat.

"The matters of Venezuelans must be resolved exclusively by us", it stated. "There is nothing to "clarify" when it comes to respecting the Constitution", said moderate leader and former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles.

It seems that a combination of internal and external pressures forced President Maduro's hand.

On Saturday, opposition leaders of congress celebrated their victory, transforming their planned morning protest into an outdoor political rally welcoming the move. Hundreds of people joined them at their gathering in a wealthy area of eastern Caracas.

Later, soldiers fired tear gas on activists who attempted to march on government offices downtown and blocked their path with barricades and armored cars. "Here there was a coup d'etat and the streets must not go silent given this action that can not be erased by a stroke of a pen", National Assembly Vice President Freddy Guevara said in an emailed statement.

The court stated that it "abolished the content" of the decision handed down on Wednesday.

The point in the communique that calls for a court review of its decision also stresses that the move was made with the intention "to maintain institutional stability and the balance of powers".

Ortega was long seen as a supporter of the leftist "revolution" launched by President Nicolas Maduro's mentor Hugo Chavez in 1999.

Friday's comments by prosecutor general Luisa Ortega Diaz - that the court ruling "ruptured" Venezuela's constitutional order - were an nearly unheard of public condemnation by a high-ranking government official of the direction the faltering country is heading. "Maduro must have realized that Ortega was not acting alone", Corrales said.

Small protests popped up all around the capital beginning at dawn Saturday.

"It's time to mobilise!" student David Pernia, 29, said in western San Cristobal city, adding Venezuelans were fed up with autocratic rule and economic hardship.

In a ruling issued late Wednesday, the Supreme Court's Constitutional Chamber declared the National Assembly was operating "outside the rule of law" after longstanding claims that the legislature was in contempt of previous legal statements.

Thirteen OAS nations, including heavyweights Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, as well as the United States, want to declare the Venezuelan court rulings "incompatible with democracy and a violation of the constitutional order". Colombia, Chile and Peru withdrew their ambassadors over the ruling.

Even before this week's events, OAS head Luis Almagro had been pushing for Venezuela's suspension, but he is unlikely to garner the two-thirds support needed in the 34-nation block despite hardening sentiment toward Maduro round the region.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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