Venezuela’s Supreme Court Saturday [1 April] reversed a controversial decision that stripped congress of all its powers, as international pressure had been building against the socialist administration.
El Universal newspaper reported that the court had published two “clarifications” including one that said that the National Assembly will maintain its legislative functions.
On Wednesday, the same court had said it would assume all legislative functions as it claimed the opposition-led congress was illegitimate for being in contempt of previous court rulings.
That decision raised alarms around the region. The opposition called it a “coup,” the Organization of American States has scheduled an emergency meeting on Monday, and several Latin American countries recalled their ambassadors.
The decision even opened divisions within President Nicolás Maduro’s usually lock-step administration, with cabinet members and high officials suggesting the move was a violation of the constitution.
The backlash prompted Maduro in a late night speech to ask the courts to review their decision in order to “maintain constitutional stability.”
Wednesday’s controversial decision to muzzle congress was embedded in a narrower ruling that allows the executive to sign joint-venture contracts without congressional approval. Such contracts are usually a function of the legislature.
By all accounts, the cash-strapped government needs foreign financing to make interest payments and stay afloat, and congress had threatened to block new debt. According to local media that part of the ruling was maintained.
On Friday there were reports of sporadic protests and some violence as demonstrators clashed with security forces. And more protests were planned for Saturday. It’s unclear if they will go forward in light of the new ruling.
By: Jim Wyss
2 April 2017