Venezuela’s Chief Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz, to date considered a stern supporter of Maduro’s regime, condemned the judiciary’s dissolution of the National Assembly last Thursday.
The decision goes together with declarations from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein announcing that “The separation of powers is essential for democracy to function.”
“It constitutes a rupture of the constitutional order. It’s my obligation to express my great concern to the country,” stated Diaz on Friday, who has acted as an ally to the Chavista government over its 18 years in power.
How the coup came to fruition
On late Thursday, the Supreme Court emitted a ruling that dissolved the National Assembly and passed its duties to the Supreme Court to act over. The ruling also came with an authorization for President Nicolas Maduro to take extraordinary measures into preserving the integrity of the state.
The National Assembly, being the representation of Venezuela’s legislative wing equivalent to the U.S. Congress, has been under control of the opposition since January 2016. Shortly after its representatives took office, the central government, who until that time was in control of all state powers, staged a series of executive and judiciary acts to try reducing the assembly’s power.
Because the National Assembly’s representatives were directly chosen by popular vote, the result displayed the immense rejection held by Venezuela’s people to the Maduro regime. Furthermore, a fully-working National Assembly with an opposition majority would have allowed its representatives to remove Maduro with plenty of legal methods at their disposal.
The problem was that just before the elections, the last National Assembly led by Diosdado Cabello, the second strong man in Chavismo, selected a judiciary board that could respond swiftly and efficiently to Maduro’s needs to maintain the regime in power. That board would become the Supreme Court justices, and shortly after, they would emit sentences restricting the National Assembly’s legislative power.
The Supreme Court was used to suppress the assembly
Throughout 2016, the Supreme Court unilaterally ruled that the assembly was out of order, labeling its decisions as unconstitutional, which is against the constitutional separation of powers, seeing that the National Assembly is a direct representation of the people, and the Supreme Court’s justices were not chosen by voters, but rather by the government itself to use the court as a lawmaking firm to attack the legislative wing.
Opposition representatives in the assembly did not quail at the regime’s attempts to intimidate and obstruct them from accomplishing their lawful purposes designated by the people’s vote. After a year of over 40 out-of-order rulings, the postponement of the elections, and the liquidation of the recall referendum, the Supreme Court ruled that the Assembly had to be dissolved.
The decision was met with unrest and protests by students, who directed themselves to the Supreme Court. They were repelled by the regime’s fully-equipped riot police.
Reactions from Maduro’s own supporters and the world
Although the Maduro regime has stepped outside the Constitution several times, this is the first time that one of the state’s powers tries to eradicate another completely. This appears to have backfired inside Maduro’s own team of supporters, as Chief Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz spoke out against the regime’s decision.
An emergency Organization of American States meeting will take place on Saturday to discuss the situation, as the Maduro regime has broken a new frontier regarding what is it willing to do to remain in power. Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry claims that there is a conspiracy to make believe that there has been a coup in the country, while Russia also emitted a statement, asking the international community to remain outside of Venezuela, calling for the principles of non-interference in internal affairs.
Currently, Venezuela sits at the top of the worst crisis in its history, with country-wide famine, lack of basic needs such as electricity, water services, an immense criminality, and lack of medical supplies.
In response to the acts, the opposition coalition, Democratic Unity, has declared itself in permanent session to plan and develop responses to the dictatorial measures taken by the government. Opposition leaders have promised continuous protests as days go by, as tensions have been at a large since Maduro attacked the sovereignty of voters by denying elections and arbitrarily canceling in 2016 the presidential recall referendum that could potentially oust him from power.
Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez fueled the last series of severe protests in 2014, whose efforts were countered and thanks to the government’s methods of intervention and the lack of support for the protests, the demonstrations turned violent, ending up with over 40 deceased people as a result. Lopez ended up jailed, and the opposition lost political power due to the aftermath of the events.
The military, whose loyalty should be to the country and its laws as it’s written in the Constitution, appears to be significantly benefited by contracts and state companies that guarantee immense benefits for military personnel, granting them control of farming distribution and many other areas of public concern.
The opposition aims to increase pressure until late 2018 when Maduro’s presidential term will come to an end and a presidential election is supposed to take place.