Venezuelan Supreme Court Vetoes Amnesty Bill. ¿Surprised?

April 11, 2016


The Venezuelan Supreme Court (TSJ) declared today that the Amnesty Bill was Unconstitutional. No surprise there. Anyone that was not expecting it has to be pretty clueless about Venezuela. In a few words, the TSJ said that the Amnesty Bill ignores the justice for those victims of those that were supposed to be freed with this measure.

What this means, is that the TSJ simply said no Amnesty Bill can ever be Constitutional, ratifying what I believe is the new Article #1 of the Venezuelan Constitution:

Article #1: All Bills approved by the opposition-controlled National Assembly are unconstitutional.

You see, arguing some vague “victims” did not get Justice, is simply going about it backwards. The Constitution says that Amnesty will not apply to cases where Human Rights were violated or international treaties were not respected. But Amnesty works the other way around, if Amnesty is approved, you look at the individual case and determine if someone’s Human Rights were violated.

Take two simple cases, Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma, the first one was not convicted  for violating anyone’s Human Rights but somehow “subliminally” encouraging other to be violent and cause deaths. Ledezma’s case is even weaker, for the simple reason that there has been no Justice for him, he has received no trial, nor is he being accused of violating Human Rights.

Just to make the case clearer, Hugo Chávez was one of four leaders in a coup where over 200 people were killed, a clear violation of the very Human Rights of the victims, including that of the then President Venezuela and his family who were the intended “victims” of the failed coup. But all of them received Amnesty and the protests in favor of Amnesty were led by none other than Nicolas Maduro and many of the “leaders” of Chavismo. How “principles” change…

Except that the original sin of the current opposition leadership was to accept the first decision of the TSJ after december 6th.,  which questioned the swearing in of the Amazonas Deputies. If the Assembly was not willing to have the much expected showdown (see here, for example, written on Dec. 20th.), it should not have sworn them in to begin with. But once it did, it should have never backed down.

That’s what showdown means…

But it did and with that action, it abrogated a significant part of its power and the TSJ saw it as a sign of weakness. Since then, the new Article 1 of the Constitution, as interpreted by the TSJ, has ruled.

It is by now a one way street, like the picture above.

In the end, the National Assembly has little power except when it comes down to budgets. It can not only change them, but can also remove Ministers and create the veil of illegality on the part of Government officials. But so far, it has not taken any advantage of this. Had the Assembly removed a Minister here or there, or change the budget in certain areas, it would have created at least the fear that some day the law would come crashing down against someone in charge of spending today.

But the supposedly ever-so-clever chosen Head of the National assembly has done little but tweet suggesting any of these actions.

And the path is clear. Amnesty Bill? Not Constitutional. Recall Referendum? Not adjusted to the law, therefore not Constitutional. Ans so on..

Time is running short. Chavismo has set its sights on surviving until Jan. 10th. 2017. After that day, any removal of the President will imply the Chavista Vice-President will be in place until 2019. By then, who knows where oil will be at, who will be President or whether the TSJ will remove some members of the National Assembly. Much like Cuba for almost 60 years, Chavismo’s only plan is not the “people”, but just survival.

And so far, they seem to be doing a great job. Unfortunately, the opposition has not been up to the job of creating the expected showdown.

22 Responses to “Venezuelan Supreme Court Vetoes Amnesty Bill. ¿Surprised?”

  1. Morpheous Says:

    The situation is simple. The National Assembly problem is that the military is not enforcing the approved bills. Instead, the military is supporting the other political powers. Laws without enforcement are nothing. This is a fact at any level. From police enforcing simple rules to military controlling higher laws from top political powers. At the end of the day, armed institutions determine the outcome if the laws are feasible to be enforced.

    Remember Chavez: “This is a peaceful revolution but armed” — Then, you need an armed peaceful counterrevolution; at least. — If this is is impossible as some people think, then be prepared for 100+ years of some form of Chavismo in power.

  2. Glenn Says:

    Well I’ll be! The UN is surprised by this. Where have they been? Under a rock?

    • Lee Kuan Yew Says:

      “Suprised”.. So what? Are they going to DO anything? Of course not. They hardly ever do anything, even when there are massive Genocides in Africa, Serbia, or now Syria.. What a bunch of useless, bureaucratic clowns at the UN.. They’re almost as laughable/despicable as the OEA..

      Even NATO is crap these days. But the Europeans and the USA keep funding them, excellent salaries for thousands of worthless bureaucrats and demagogues.

  3. captainccs Says:

    It’s not about right but about might. It’s not about legality but about power. Realpolitik.

  4. M.O. The National Assembly could try a constitutional amendment to create a super Supreme Court which could overrule the current TSJ?

    I also believe they could issue a resolution warning prospective investors that all transactions and contracts by the executive or state concerns with foreign owned entities are null and void given the executives refusal to have the central bank and state owned corporations report to the National Assembly. They can also add that any such foreign entities who do sign or loan will be subject to fines equal to 100 million units, plus they would be sued in their hone jurisdictions to recover any money they received. You know, choke off any moves by Maduro et al to get money.

    • moctavio Says:

      I think money is the only way. Any new Supreme Court Bill will likely be vetoed or called unconstitutional. Budgetary matters I think will be more difficult to stop. But in the end, I think the Assembly should have done this earlier and use confrontation when told no. By now, a recall or amendment will be very difficult.

      • I believe a parallel effort is required. Pass law after law, to provide assurance they are dealing with a rogue TSJ. Move on to declare the regime is illegitimate. Press with protests. And attack the purse. I’ve worked for several outfits interested in Venezuela, and I think they’ll balk at putting anything on the table if the National Assembly is telling them their deals are vaporware. They need to focus on outfits lending money like Chevron and Sclumberger, as well as cut budgets, try to short circuit the gold adventurers, etc. the regime IS illegitimate, they fall under clause 350, therefore anything goes.

  5. Busboy78 Says:

    Back in January and while he was deciding, Dr. Allup should have reflected upon the effects of Marbury v. Madison. Too late now; the train has left the station.

      • Busboy78 Says:

        Yes. Precedent setting.

        But what would have happened if nascent Power A would have rejected the authority of Nascent Power B? [In addition to other undesirable things that are mostly irrelevant to this discussion] the court’s authority to say what the law is would have been hampered for a long, long time.

        And given this court’s track record, that’s the bolder approach that Allup -an authority on constitutional law- should have taken.

  6. Noel Says:

    When they look at Venezuela, I think that a lot of Chileans over 60, old enough to remember to 70s and 80s, are thankful that their armed forces carried a successful coup and then accepted the results of their referendum.

    I have always felt that there was no democratic way out of Chavista rule as the current regime would never give up power. At first, because Chavez wanted to irreversibly transform the country, and allowing an opposing party back in power was risking unraveling such transformation. Now, because the Chavistas fear retribution for their mismanagement and corruption.

    There is now another way out, which is unfortunately the gradual desintegration of the country, of its physical infrastructure, of its institutions and worst of all of its spirit. And the world just watches…

    • Dr. Faustus Says:

      Indeed, the world just watches. Excellent analysis. Every true democracy should be expressing their outrage, …today. Where are they? And, by the way, where is the Pope on this? They use his image in their state propaganda all the time, yet no response from the Vatican? The world has gone soft, and will, in the end, pay a heavy price.

      • Lee Kuan Yew Says:

        The Pope was just saluting and laughing with the Castro criminal brothers, much like Obama. Did any of of you miss that? Organized religion..Politics.. google it up.. the images are beyond depressing.

      • Lee Kuan Yew Says:

        Oh, and the Vatican.. Probably the second most corrupt country on the Planet, after Kleptozuela, of course.

      • The world doesn’t express any outrage over Cuban dictatorship abuses. I think by now the fact that Raúl Castro has huge influence over Maduro (to be polite) is well known. Therefore outside parties will wring their hands and let Maduro et al carry on creating a Cuban clone, which eventually may become a Cuban province.

        On the other hand, maybe Obama and other imperial elites think having Venezuela ruled by Alejandro Castro will be good for business. They deal with the Saudi dictatorship…so why not a Cuban dictatorship which owns Venezuela? Obama abd the red pope may think this is just fine.

    • Duncan Says:

      Not entirely sure the Chilean example is comparable or, for that matter, commendable. Firstly, the Venezuelan military are up to their necks in illegal activities; and so are dependant on the regime for the impunity that it grants them. Secondly, the Venezuelan people would have to have some trust/respect in the military for this to work.
      I may be wrong, but I believe that the Chilean armed forces did not accept the referendum unconditionally? They demanded a guaranteed percentage of the GDP as part of the military budget which still is in place today.
      Perhaps the only way of ousting The Chavistas is by force. I hope not. It will just propel Venezuela into the endless cycle of golpe militares/estado that has plagued the Americas and Africa for decades.
      Lastly, I don’t think that the world is even watching anymore. Europe has its own problems, the USA has its own fuel supply, most Asians and Africans have never heard of Venezuela, and most importantly, Venezuela has nothing to offer to anyone.

  7. Colon Says:

    Thanks Miguel

    Derwick Allup and most of the opposition are also playing survival , and Mr Yew seem to have the right diagnosis.

  8. Lee Kuan Yew Says:

    Leopoldo was right. The only way to remove the criminal, kleptocratic regime will be by force, in the streets, by overwhelming numbers of people.

    The Chavista thugs in power risk too much to just step down, or give any concessions: Jail time, for starters, loss of massive income and privileges, frozen overseas bank accounts, loss of houses, cars, apartments, and/or a life in exile in some distant country they don’t like, with a fake identity.

    The Muddy opposition hasn’t done much – if anything at all – not only because their hands are somewhat tied by the Chavista 4 powers, notably the corrupt TSJ, but also because they are getting Bribed, or at least threatened, extorted, plus they are making a good living, probably with new juicy Guisos every week.

    You can bet the most of the Muddy new deputies are getting a piece of the pie. Not all, but most of them, one way or another. Favors, promises, an off-shore bank account.. Chavistas know very well how to steal, and hide money. They’ve become experts at it, many don’t even show up in Andorra or the Panama papers..

    That’s nothing new in Vzla. What else did we expect? Remember how corrupt were the Adecos/Copeyanos for 4 decades? And who do you think is now the Muddy MUD? Same politicians, highly corruptible, especially in a country with 99% impunity and rotten to the core at every level.

    This all happens “por debajo de la mesa”, of course, during el cafecito mañanero with twisted Chavista deputies, late night calls with Aristobulo, private reunions for a whiskicito..

    Meanwhile, Leopoldo and the other political prisoners will languish in jail, neutralized. And the rule of Terror will continue, which is the idea behind the whole thing: “Si pataleas, vas preso”. Another reason why the Muddy Mud isn’t doing anything at all. Hasta que “el pueblo” termine de arrecharse.

  9. Tom ODonnell Says:

    Thanks for your perseverance in reporting and commenting on these rather depressing – though consistent – developments.

    I agree with your assessments of the opposition. The reasons as to why they operate in this manner – which are important to look into (I have my thoughts on this question)- are sobering, especially in considering what the future of Venezuela might be.

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