Being Chavista

We’ll get started with this week’s Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment in a few but first… We had a piece last week in which the EU (European Union) condemned the Maduro regime, calling them out for being, well, who they are. Now we have another one from AP reporting that the UN-Human Rights Council – FFM (Fact Finding Mission) said in it’s latest report that authorities with the Maduro regime are increasingly repressing specific members of civil society including politicians, labor leaders, journalists, Human Rights defenders, and other real or perceived opponents.

 The targets have been subjected to detention, surveillance, threats, defamation campaigns, and arbitrary criminal proceedings on hate speech or terrorism charges. (Remember, with Chavismo’s “Anti-Hate Law”, hate or hate speech is whatever they say it is and without an independent judiciary, whatever the Chavistas do is ratified by the Chavista-controlled TSJ, Venezuela’s Supreme Court)

 “By criminalizing participation in legitimate activities the government is silencing and creating a chilling effect on anyone who might consider participating in any activity that could be perceived as critical of the government” Patricia Tappeta Valdez, a member of the FFM told reporters.

 With the opposition primaries scheduled for October 23rd , right around the corner, efforts to curtail democratic freedoms will only intensify.It’s just the Chavistas being Chavista.

 Now might be a good time to remind you that other than a few brief months immediately after he took power in 2013, Nicolas Maduro has never had an approval rating higher that 15% and is usually around a 5% approval so he has no real interest in the democratic process.

 Then we have Rio Times reporting that two people were killed in a conflict between Venezuelan authorities and illegal miners at Yapacana National Park.

 The Maduro regime has recently been making it’s usual PR splash, which they do whenever there is significant outcry from enough countries and environmental groups.

 As soon as the international pressure quiets down so will the situation at Yapacana National Park. All the mining will resume with the corrupt military and the Chavistas getting their piece of the action, and the environmental devastation will resume as well.

 Now, let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 12/ The Supremes

 The basic structure of Venezuela’s government was set up by “The Great Liberator”, Simon Bolivar, to resemble, to a degree, that of the United States of America.What we see in Venezuela today resembles the government of the USA in name only ie; Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches. We already know that the Executive branch no longer has presidential powers, it’s a dictatorship. We just discussed the lunacy of the legislative branch, a legitimate assembly that can’t pass laws, and an illegitimate assembly that can and does. That leaves us with the Judicial branch, Venezuela’s Supreme Court, the TSJ.

 I hardly know where to begin, it’s so crazy, but I’ll give it a shot. Venezuela’s TSJ sees a lot more cases than the US Supreme Court. I don’t know what it was like back in the day but in recent times the court reviews thousands of petitions/cases a year so, just based on the math, it can’t take too long to reach a decision (Unless it’s contrary to the Chavista’s wishes in which case it may never be heard).

 The TSJ gives new meaning to the term “judicial activism”. It’s worth noting that, compared to the Maduro years, the Chavez years were relatively tame but this is by comparison only. First things first, Chavez changed the name from the Supreme Court to the Supreme Tribunal of Justice. It’s a small thing but rebranding is generally a sign of changes to come. Under Chavez, the Chavista- controlled National Assembly added 9 permanent judges and 32 stand-ins in 2010. Overall during Chavez’s term, 12 judges were added to the TSJ increasing the number of permanent judges from 20 to 32. Needless to say, all added judges and replacement judges were pro- Chavista and their primary focus was always directly tied to Chavez’s wishes, dismissing everything else. A good example of this “protectionism” was in 2008 when the OAS court (Venezuela was still an OAS member at the time) ordered a judge reinstated that had been dismissed. It simply never happened.

 When the TSJ was given it’s new name and new members it’s function was defined as “to control according to the Constitution and related laws the constitutionality and legality of public acts”. Under Chavismo the lines between a legal entity and a political entity became blurred or non- existent, even though they were the ones that defined TSJ’s responsibilities. The TSJ regularly makes recommendations to the CNE board (Venezuela’s electoral council). In 2012 it ruled that the top opposition leader couldn’t run against Chavez. It categorized it’s decision as an administrative one, not a political one, whatever that means. By the way, as much as the Chavistas love maligning Leopoldo Lopez, the opposition leader, and constantly professing their adoration for Simon Bolivar, “The Great Liberator”, it is Lopez, not Chavez, who is Bolivar’s descendant.

 More tomorrow….

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