Archive for July 16th, 2008

A Supreme leak irks the Chief Justice of Venezuela´s highest court the wrong way

July 16, 2008

News today was dominated by the leak from the Venezuelan Supreme Court that
a proposed sentence on the Constitutionality of the disqualification or
bans to run for office by the Comptroller had been presented by one of the
Justices in the Constitutional Hall of the Venezuelan Supreme Court. While
the focus has been on the perhaps surprising fact that the Court may rule
the Comptroller can’t ban anyone from running, to me the most remarkable
aspect is the irreverence that such a leak may take place at the highest
Court of the land and that the Court itself does not appear to be
embarrassed by the leak.

I would not be that surprised by the
Supreme Court disallowing the Comptroller and the Electoral Board on their
flimsy legal position on the bans. I would not be surprised, because the
issue has the possibility to become politically incendiary and its effects
are actually quite narrow, as a ruling against the validity of the
Comptroller’s ban list, in the end, has an effect on only three or four
major candidates, two or three of which can be defeated if Chavez’s PSUV
party play things right (with some help from the opposition). Thus, it
would seem advisable for Chavez and his cohorts to avoid the possible
confrontation, since there is not much to gain from it.

On top of
that, allowing the Comptroller to have such powers could one-day boomerang
even against the members of the Court who have any political aspirations.
Just think, this man can single-handedly stop the political aspirations of
any Venezuelan if he holds any grudge or dislike for the potential
candidate.

But I am amazed how such a supreme leak appears to seem
quite normal on what is left of the country’s democracy. Rather than open
an investigation, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court holds a press
conference blasting the press for publishing the leak, explaining what
exactly a proposed sentence means and warning that it may not be approved
by the full Constitutional Court or it may not even be considered before
the deadline for candidates to be registered for the regional elections,
which has to be done by August 5th.

Clearly this was not a simple
leak, but a massive dissemination of Justice’s Rondon proposed sentence,
which had to come from the Supreme Court in general and from the offices of
the Justices of the Constitutional Hall, including its Chief Justice
specifically. But at no point was the President of the Court critical of
this irresponsibility by the Highest Court, while criticizing the press for
reporting exactly what they had in their hands: a leak of a possible
sentence, as at no time did the press report that this was a final decision
by the Court.

But more significantly, the Chief Justice made some
arguments that can only be considered as circular, naming the various
related cases in front of the Court and attempting to establish a hierarchy
of some sort among them. No case is more or less important in terms of the
bans. All of the cases, whether injunction, interpretation or a request to
declare the Comptrollers law unconstitutional have the same goal: Allow
those disqualified by the Comptroller to register to be candidates before
August 5th. and be elected if the people so desire in November.

And
there is no excuse for the Court not to have ruled in any of these cases,
as the Chief Justice clearly mentioned the fact that justice Rondon’s case
was introduced in 2004 and given the massive violation of the rights of
both candidates and electors that these cases may involve, some priority
should have been given to them. Otherwise disqualifying these candidates
simply represents a gross miscarriage of justice

But the Chief
Justice should also be reminded of issues that go beyond the Constitution.
The foundation of this fake revolution lies on a decision to interpret that
sovereignty resides on the people, which allowed the referendum for a
Constituent Assembly to take place. These are the same people that today
are not being allowed to register their candidate of choice or vote for
them, because the comptroller managed to find some administrative
irregularity only in those cases where his political bias pushed him to
look for one while the most rampant corruption in the country’s history
goes unpunished day after day.

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