On March 29 the Venezuelan Supreme Court dissolved the power of the National Assembly by passing a law in which the Executive branch of the government will no longer need the permission of the Parliament in order to create mixed entities of energy. This problem started when the Parliament tried to take control of the national oil companies owned by the state, to try to investigate where the revenue was going. The response of the government was passing a law prohibiting these actions, even though the law wasn’t passed by the legislative power.
Although what shocked the alarms was the clause 4.4 which stated: “It is noted that as long as the disrespect and invalidity of the proceedings of the National Assembly persists, this Constitutional Chamber will ensure that the parliamentary powers are exercised directly by this Chamber or by the body that it has in place to ensure the rule of law.” In other words the power of the National Assembly was deleted, unless they agreed to the government’s rule, even though this law completely disregarded the separation of powers stated in the Venezuelan Constitution.
The National Assembly was won democratically by the opposition party Mesa de la Unidad Democratica, on January of 2016. This was the first major electoral win of the opposition in 17 years, and it exemplified how much Venezuelans citizens want a change. However, after this law passed, it put the country in a state of virtual dictatorship.
All over Twitter many experts called this a coup, and drew comparisons to former Peruvian President Fujimori, and his attempt to dissolve the Peruvian Congress. The deputy Juan Miguel Matheus stated that the government wants to form these mixed entities to go into a larger debt situation, and said that Maduro has stated his intentions to substitute the Assembly for the Constitutional Chamber, in another desperate attempt to maintain power. Matheus warned that the Constitution states that limiting the legislative power will have penal responsibilities.
This is the second sentence passed by the Supreme Court this week in which it completely disregards the Constitution, earlier this week the court gave President Maduro all the powers it needed to avoid a “state of chaos in the country” including the right to exit international organizations like the Organization of American States.
The president of the Venezuelan Parliament Julio Borges states that this action was “a coup in all the sense of the world, it’s a dictatorship and the international community has to help. Make the alarms sound to help the Venezuelan people, so we can change this dictatorship for freedom, justice and democracy”. He also announced that civil mobilizations that will start tomorrow April 1, and he asked the local police “to be part of the solution “ Finally he announced his intention to go to the international organizations to demand justice for these crimes against humanity’s freedom.
On a final note, several international political figures like former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe have openly said that these actions should be penalized with jail time. Political prisoner and leader of Voluntad Popular Leopoldo Lopez also stated via Twitter : “We denounce before the world the consummation of a COUP in Venezuela after the dissolution of the Parliament. Today, through an illegal and illegitimate sentence, the Supreme Court formally decreed the DICTATOR that since 2014 we have denounced in Venezuela. We live defining moments for Venezuela and all America: we must choose if we are in favor of democracy or dictatorship. Venezuelans, the struggle to defeat the dictatorship and recuperate our freedom and democracy must come from all lands”.
Even the Department of State of the United States issued a decree in which it stated its concern for the situation in Venezuela. “The State Department condemns the decision of the Supreme Court of Venezuela to usurp the powers of the democratically elected National Assembly on March 29. This rupture of democratic and constitutional norms greatly damages democratic institutions and denies the people Venezuelan right to shape the future of his country through its elected representatives. We consider it a serious setback for democracy in Venezuela.” The decree also demanded for elections in a hope to restore lost democratic values in the country.