Venezuelan Supreme Court Limits And Legislates Right To Protest

April 25, 2014


In a remarkable decision, the Venezuelan Supreme Court in interpreting the 2000 Chavista Constitution, proceeded to not only remove rights given by the Venezuelan Constitution, but in one swift interpretation, legislated new limitations to the right to protest, as well as appearing to promote repression of protests.

It was just another chapter in the bizarre history of a Supreme Court that only responds to the desires of the Maduro Government.

The Constitutional Hall of the Supreme Court essentially says that any concentration, protest or public meeting which is made without prior authorization of the authorities can give rise to the police or public force to remove the gathering in order to guarantee the right to freely move around of others.

However, Art. 53 of the Venezuelan Constitution clearly says that  any person has the right to meet publicly or privately, without permission, for legal ends and without weapons. It also state that such meetings will be regulated by the Law.

And the Law clearly says that you don’t need permission for such meeting, just participating it to the relevant authority.

The decision also violates international human rights standards which explicitly say that the right to free transit should not be above that of meeting freely in public. In fact, the same human rights standards specify that the lack of approval or notification should not be an excuse to allow the gathering to be broken up by the police. Venezuela has signed all United Nations human rights agreements.

To close the absurdity and perversity of the decision, the Supreme Court says that municipalities have the responsibility of controlling public order, while municipalities in Venezuela are barred from buying equipment of any kind for such purposes.

Thus, in one blow the Court reduces rights provided by the Constitution, legislates on what is required or not to protest, making it essential to be approved first and exhorts the police to remove any such protest.

Of course, all of this will be applied only to whatever the Government considers opposition.

Someone is clearly worried somewhere with these protests, no?


23 Responses to “Venezuelan Supreme Court Limits And Legislates Right To Protest”

  1. Jeffry A. House Says:

    If the local city law in Brussels is restrictive, it is challengable in a court. All European Law must be consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights, which reads:

    “Article 11 – Freedom of assembly and association
    1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

    2. No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the State.”

    “No restrictions except those prescribed by LAW” means that lodging broad discretion in a mayor or other civil authority violates the Convention. It also means that any decision is reviewable in an independent court on the basis of the criteria stated in Article 11.

    • Kepler Says:

      I think it is more than obvious what you could read from the link I presented that there is no violation to talk about and yet the permission is needed…
      it is almost automatically given but it is needed, here and probably in other countries here. It is understood the government cannot deny it at its will but serious causes must be presented.
      I already mentioned that once, twice, three times?
      So: the point is that here we can easily see we won’t have any trouble getting such a permission (provided we are not using the same street for a march of the EU farmers and the exile Tibetans and the metal union workers and the Walloon teachers at the same time or we are members of Al Qaeda calling for sharia in Belgium – this was one of the latest things I remember that didn’t get a permit).

      The point is in Venezuela: we should have firstly used all the means to register the regime’s ideological bias against us.

  2. captaincs Says:

    It is patently absurd to have to ask permission to protest from the party you are protesting against. It’s sheer absurdity. It’s asking the enemy for permission to go to war against them.

  3. Lemmy Caution Says:

    Kepler said, that demonstrations in Germany and Belgium need a permit. I wasn’t sure, so I checked some legal sources on the internet for Germany.
    The organizers of a demonstration should inform the municipal regulatory authority 48 hours in advance of the event. The authority may prohibit the demonstration, when they fear “an immediate breach of public order”. You may sue against that decision.

    Spontaneous demonstrations are not prohibited, but police may dissolve them.

    So you don’t need a permit. You should inform 48 hours in advance or your protest may be dissolved.

    The authorities normally doesn’t prohibit demonstrations. Even very unpopular neonazis normally get their permits, although this is often associated with really violent clashes with counter-demonstrations, violence from both sides and a very massive deployment of police forces. I’ve seen that once in Dortmund and admired the de-escalation attitude of the police. Recently there was an issue in Hamburg with demonstrations of the extreme left, but police claimed they tried systematically to attack a police station.
    Every 2 years or so there is a train coming from a french atomic reprocessing plant to an area in northern area. This always leads to very creative strategies to stop the train. People from the anti-nuclear movement chain themselves to the rails or they just disassemble them somewhere in the woods. Those demonstrations are never prohibited.

    Mostly peaceful demonstrations for issues supported by nearly (or over) 50% of voters of recent elections would never ever be prohibited in Germany or Belgium.

    • Kepler Says:

      As far as I know Venezuelans in Berlin have asked for permission to do demos next to both Brandenburger Tor and Bundestag. I didn’t deal with that but what they were saying was that they couldn’t get the permission for the Bundestag so far in advance.
      There have been marches of Neonazis that have been prohibited in some areas but those prohibitions have been the exception, as I mentioned.
      In Brussels we have had to announce the demos and they can be limited or not. But again: the prohibitions are the exception.
      One way or the other the Venezuelan opposition needs to painstakingly record all the interaction with the regime by using international witnesses…for the simple fact that every violation of human rights from the regime will sooner than later be paid.

      Here you have a link to a machine-translated official page of the City of Brussels:
      This is exactly what I wrote.

      • Lemmy Caution Says:

        Sure there are special rules around Parliament buildings, the constitutional court and I think some embassies (Bannmeile or Bannkreis -> fringe area). In these area you need a special permit. Its mentioned in the linked legal text above.
        But I insist: If you demonstrate enough meters away from that areas, you don’t need a permit. You just have to inform, but your demo may get prohibited, if the authorities fear “an immediate breach of public order”, which normally doesn’t happen even for the most radical groups.
        I interpret this as different from needing an explicit permit.

    • Kepler Says:

      Just to make it clear: almost every demo in Brussels (or elsewhere in Belgium) is allowed but permit is needed. That is because the police can choose to send people for security reasons. And yet: the Belgian police are generally extremely cautious and are pretty good at avoiding confrontation.

      The worst confrontations have always been with the the extreme left. A couple of months ago there was a demo of Afghan refugees that was not allowed to go close to the Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat, where the government’s seat is, because there had been a previous demos of these people where they went into creating havoc.

      We see demos every week in Brussels: the Tibetans in Europe, the farmers, the Poles, the unions, whatever…and Venezuelans in Brussels have organised several demos a year for years now. Always, always we needed a permit. We always got it and sometimes the police came to watch, from far…I talked to them on a couple of occasions (kind of like: “Sir, do you think all these ladies and kids can be dangerous?” and they smiled and told me: actually, it’s more to protect you from the extreme left” and they were right.
      On one minor demo a bunch of Venezuelans went away from the demo and were attacked by several Chileans and Colombians – pro Chavez -(linked to FARC the latter as a Colombian Venezuelan told me), the Chavistas started to beat two of the Venezuelan oppos when both groups got into a lonely street (after the demo).

  4. The mold new laws at their convenience at people in power a pre-new revolution on favor them.

  5. VJ Says:

    In this video, HCF speaks from the twilight zone about the rights to protest.

  6. Jeffry House Says:

    The Venezuelan Supreme Court decision is nonsensical, and does not bear any relationship to the rule of law. In European countries, the core freedom to demonstrate may be be regulated by law, especially, laws concerning time or place. A city might pass an ordinance which restricts demonstrations in the vicinity of a hospital, for example, or between the hours of one and six AM. An application to demonstrate at the hospital at four AM must be rejected, while an application to demonstrate at noon at City Hall Square must be approved. There is no discretion.

    The ordinance, in this example, is a LAW. The Venezuelan Supreme Court decision simply says that a demonstration is presumptively illegal, but can be legitimized by “the civil authority”.

    Since no criteria are given for the exercise of this presumed authority, the right is not being limited by law, but by arbitrary discretion. This is the opposite of a democratic principle.

  7. Kepler Says:

    OK, I take the liberty to show what I posted:

    Let’s prove it. Let’s show the list, the petitions, the march routes of officialdom and the ones we wanted to take but were not allowed to take.

  8. captaincs Says:

    Miguel: There is no “Venezuelan Supreme Court” any longer. It’s the “Chavista Court Directorate” to do the bidding of the power usurpers.

    Second, they legislated nothing new, they just put on paper the abuses Chavismo has perpetrated during the past 15 years.

    To paraphrase Che Guevara’s UN speech: “We have been doing any damn thing we want. We are doing any damn thing we want. We will continue to do any damn thing we want for as long as we want.”

  9. Kepler Says:

    I will be the devil’s advocate. As far as I know, people need a permit whenever they want to march in Belgium and Germany. Of course, the issue is that here people do get those permits almost always, unless there is real danger, it’s about neonazis marching in front of some critical area or in places where they would provoke counter-protests, etc.

    Now, if that is so, we are playing badly to the international public. We need to show the opposition doesn’t get those permits. To do that we need to keep track of these things, show them, show the requests, all the requests, to the international public, to OAS (not that they care a fig, but journous will).

    • But the law here is different, it just says you need to inform, until now.

      In fact the law also says tgat if two groups inform they will hold protests at the same time then the authirity will try to eliminate conflicts, Chavizmo has used that for years, saying it will march at the same time to block the opposition’s march

      • Kepler Says:


        I am no lawyer, but that is not how I see that part of the constitution.
        On the second part it clarifies:
        “Las reuniones en lugares públicos se regirán por la ley.”
        Thus: it left that fuzzy there, whatever Chávez said later.
        I still don’t see why we couldn’t have gone through the motions to record every single attempt of being like in a democratic country and how the regime blocked it.

    • myladydha Says:

      I speak for Germany here (where I have demonstrated): the permit entitles protection, traffic control and sometimes an ambulance (just in case someone faints).

  10. xp Says:

    Someone is clearly worried somewhere with these protests, no?

    O, OY, OY VEY!
    .someone’s going thru too much destress.
    .the Porta-Potties are comin’.
    …Now that the shit’s hittin’ the fan.

  11. m_astera Says:

    An economics professor at Texas Tech said he had never failed a single student before but had, once, failed an entire class. The class had insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer. The professor then said ok, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism.

    All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A. After the first test the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. But, as the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too; so they studied little.. The second Test average was a D! No one was happy. When the 3rd test rolled around the average was an F.

    The scores never increased as bickering, blame, name calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for anyone else. All failed to their great surprise and the professor told them that socialism would ultimately fail because the harder to succeed the greater the reward but when a government takes all the reward away; no one will try or succeed.
    –from a comment on

    Also note that the birth rate in Cuba is so far below population replacement levels that the government has stopped importing condoms.

  12. Noel Says:

    Clearly, Venezuela is no longer a country of laws. The obvious conclusion from this state of affairs is that there is no current possibility of a change of government or regime via elections.

    This is why there are enduring street protests and Lopez, not Capriles, is in jail. Perhaps unrelenting street pressure could bring some army units to side with the opposition and then force a negotiation between parties of equal weight.

    Or the democratic revolution starts in Cuba with a change of the guard there; or both Rouseff and the Peronists are booted from power (long shot). By definition, what will bring down Chavismo is something which is not today on their radar.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: