Chavista courts eroding Venezuela’s democracy


Venezuela’s courts — packed by leftist loyalists of Nicolás Maduro only days before they handed over power — have fiercely chipped away at the new legislature’s efforts, leaving some here wondering whether Venezuela’s lawmakers who are pushing for change have any real power at all, The New York Times reports:

Already, the courts have limited lawmakers’ power to remove judges, overturned a law meant to stabilize the economy and ratified an emergency decree that was rejected by legislators on the grounds that it overstepped Mr. Maduro’s authority.

But perhaps the biggest blow yet came on Monday night when the country’s Supreme Court overturned the law that would have freed about 120 prisoners, many of them activists or opposition politicians jailed in antigovernment protests. The judges rejected the bill as unconstitutional.

“It’s a clear strategy of the Maduro government to render the Assembly completely impotent,” said Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington research group. “It’s a complete stalemate for them.”

Venezuela is currently experiencing the biggest threat to its democratic order in recent memory, according to Jared Genser, Founder of Freedom Now and Juan Carlos Gutiérrez, Counsel to Venezuelan political prisoners Leopoldo López (above) and Daniel Ceballos.

“Countries around the world must stand with the Venezuelan people in defense of democracy and human rights, both in bilateral and multilateral settings,” they write. “While some call for dialogue, there can be no meaningful dialogue without first releasing the political prisoners that are currently unjustly detained.”

Opposition leaders are now pursuing the strategy of trying to legally unseat the government by collecting signatures for a recall referendum or passing a law shortening Mr. Maduro’s term, The Washington Post adds. Almost certainly the regime’s minions on the Supreme Court and electoral authority will declare the initiatives void, regardless of their legality. Considering the people’s extreme privation, the chances of mass disorder are high.

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