There are some news that I think are much more important
than others. Yesterday TSJ decision to back off from a previously approved
sentence is in my view, a major milestone that marks the end of institutionality in Venezuela.
Regardless of what we individually think about what happened on April 11, 2002, the fact that the
Supreme Tribunal, the highest judicial instance in the country, backed off from
a previous decision is the judicial opening of a dangerous Pandora box. The
situation is very well explained in Daniel’s
What prevents now anyone whose case has been decided by the
TSJ or the old CSJ to get back to the revamped TSJ and ask that his/her case be
reopened? We could go all the way down to the decision of allowing the
president to create a Constitutional Assembly to write a new Constitution, in
which case, the new Constitution could be declared illegal and Chavez six year
term unconstitutional. We could even go back to Carlos Andres indictment and to
Chavez pardon…you see the picture. This is the judicial equivalent of solving a mathematical recursion or, for more literary
readers, recreating in judicial terms a famous story by Alejo Carpentier called
“viaje a la semilla” (trip to the seed).
Already, an opposition
leader has declared that he will ask the TSJ to review the sentence where
Chavez was pardoned for his coup attempt against the government of Carlos
Andres Perez in 1992.
Of course, we all know that this will not happen. Not now.
From day one, right after the disaster in Vargas and the 1999 Constitutional Referendum, the
government made it clear that the election of new regime- friendly judges for the TSJ was
their first priority (refer to my post “Rains
and the Quest for Absolute Power”). Recently, the government, still not happy with the
state of affairs at the TSJ, proposed in a move denounced by Human Rights Watch,
to pack the Court with new judges and elected them with a single majority
ruling when usually, a 2/3 rule is used for the election.
So we all know what the result of those “trips to the seed”
will be while the current regime is in place. Nevertheless, the fact remains
that a dangerous precedent has been set, that institutionality is dead and that
no final judgment will ever again be final in Venezuela.