Venezuela Supreme Court Reverses Ruling On Congress Power


It made the decision after the government of President Nicolas Maduro urged it to review the ruling "to maintain institutional stability". The court on yesterday released new rulings that apparently reinstated congress' authority.

Worldwide powers condemned the court's move, which gave the socialist president control over the only major state institution that still had been out of his grasp. Opposition leaders dismissed the reversal as too little too late.

In reality, Maduro has loaded the court with loyalists, and the episode seemed to offer further evidence of the degree to which judges abide by his orders.

"The dire situation we're living through in Venezuela remains the same. There is nothing to "clarify" when it comes to respecting the constitution", said Henrique Capriles, who narrowly lost to Maduro in the 2014 presidential election. Hundreds of supporters joined congress members in a wealthy Caracas neighborhood, where they celebrated the rare victory. Their path to the offices of Venezuela's ombudsman was blocked by riot police who put up huge metal barriers and fired tear gas.

"It's not clear exactly how wounded the government is".

The initial decision, which was announced on Wednesday, had been denounced as a "coup" by the opposition, which dominates the National Assembly. "So this is huge", said Javier Corrales, who teaches Latin American politics at Amherst College in MA. The wording about taking over Assembly functions came in a ruling allowing Maduro to create joint oil ventures without congress' approval.

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The court duly erased the two controversial judgements during the morning, the government said, and its president, Maikel Moreno, addressed the nation later.

Venezuelan Bolivarian National guards officers are confronted by university students during a protest outside of the Supreme Court in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, March 31, 2017.

Yet the calls to the street remained dwarfed by prosecutor general Luisa Ortega Diaz's criticism a day before - that the court ruling "ruptured" Venezuela's constitutional order - an nearly unheard of public condemnation by a high-ranking government official of the direction the faltering country is heading.

She branded the court's rulings a "rupture of constitutional order", in a surprise declaration on state television.

That statement, and the internal division that it exposed for the first time, may have been the most damaging moment of the whole episode.

Unprecedented pressure from other Latin American nations and dissent within its own ranks appear to have been the catalyst for the judicial reversal.

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While Maduro, 54, sought to cast developments as the achievement of a statesman resolving a power conflict beneath him, his foes said it was a hypocritical row-back by an unpopular government that overplayed its hand. A few small protests popped up elsewhere in the capital. But Borges has refused, breaking a years-long streak in which the opposition ramps up pressure on the administration only to help diffuse it at the last minute by coming to the bargaining table, usually fruitlessly.

"In Venezuela the only dialogue possible is the vote", Borges said Friday night.

That ruling brought global criticism raining down, as neighbouring countries yanking their ambassadors from Caracas in protest.

Venezuela's political unrest brought Foreign Ministers from South America's largest trading bloc together for an emergency meeting in Buenos Aires.

The hemispheric Organization of American States had a special session scheduled for Monday in Washington.

The normally ever-present Maduro was conspicuously silent during much of the two days of turmoil, but then he went on state TV to argue that Venezuela's institutions are operating normally.

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He concluded his remarks with a call for more dialogue.