Coup d' Etat? Has Venezuelan Parliament Been Dissolved?
These are key questions facing Venezuela's current power struggles and the intensifying political conflict, which surfaces from a March 29th High Court's (HC) ruling wich assumes incidental functions from the Venezuelan parliament, finding itself today in contempt, and administratively null and void.
No, there wasn't. Venezuelan HC ruling assumes responsibility that belongs to Parliament, currently in contempt for not rectifying the wrongful designation of 3 Amazonas state's Members of Parliament (MP), whose oaths were considered illegitimate, vetoed before the Venezuelan HC wich declares that Parliament’s "constant" acts of contempt and disregardful attitude towards the Judicial Power are contrary to Constitution's institutional functions; it does not leave out the existence nor assigned positions of those who legitimately integrate and have rightful designations within it.
In essence, HC's ruling holds up the substance of previous ones, where parliament has repeatedly been asked to desist from its contempt, "until the contempt is overcomed” it announced that it will assume parliamentary functions. A "coup d'état" is constituted as the dismembering or displacement of a political power. There is no coup d'etat when a political power can return to its functions, by legal and institutional means, as could the National Assembly (Venezuelan Parliament) effectively accomplish if they decide to overcome their contempt and return to the institutional constituency. Venezuelan's parliament counts with that possibility a coup would not allow.
Was Venezuela's Parliament Dissolved?
Definitely not. In fact, it could return to functions in just a few days, if only Henry Ramos Allup and senior MPs elected in January of 2016, decide to withdraw the Amazonas' MPs and then place Julio Borges as Leader of Parliament. Allup’s leadership was the only one elected in constitutional compliance -this isn’t Julio Borges's leadership, thus, all of Borges’ leading actions are considered null and void.
Let’s recall that last January, after dialoguing with Chavismo's representativs, the NA agreed to withdraw Amazonas' MPs. While in contempt, they named Borges President and withdrew Amazonas' MPs. That act is void. HC urged Parliament to comply with the mechanism in a legally correct manner, but they refused and inappropriately retiring themselves from the discussion, impeding the political process.
A National Assembly with requirements and guarantees of returning to functions is not a disintegrated Assembly.
Why Does the High Court Assumes Functions?
Like all public powers, the High Court is obliged to protect the constitutional and institutional laws. In short, protect society from all kinds of disturbances. That is to say; it protects Venezuela's "social agreements".
In view of the parliament’s contempt, self-annulment, and stagnant situation, the country’s political stability hangs by a thread deriving in the irregular absence of one of it's political powers. It finds itself in such situation for over a year now. Implying that the Government has a vacant space, the absence of a political power is a predicament that puts the State in uncertainty and institutional vulnerability. In fact, the MUD (opossition parties coalition) uses Parliament to attack the entire State structure, ranging from the Executive and other political powers, jeopardizing all institutions and directly violating the rule of law. Upon these actions, HC has pronounced itself.
The purpose is to sustain a functioning State, the High Court accidentally assumes incidental functions, while the majority of politicians in parliament decide to overturn its current situation, interpreted through HC in the Constitution by its legal term -“Unconstitutional Legislative Omission".
We insist; this situation will persist depending on decisions made by MUD's MPs within parliament. The HC is crystal clear and states in paragraph 4 of it's sentence: "As long as contempt and invalid proceedings from the National Assembly persists, High Court's Constitutional Chamber will dully guarantee that Legislative Powers are exercised directly by this Chamber or by the governing body it provides, ensuring the rule of law.”
Is there an Economic Event that Triggered this Issue?
Chavismo has repeatedly criticized Parliament under MUD's rule, with exponentially raising national political conflicts, reflected today in power struggles. There has been an unprecedented increase in -defined by the Venezuelan government as- "attempts to paralyze State and country." Chavismo also charges Parliament as forming part of an institutional rejection, intensifying economic boycott scenarios, context wich that allowed the only Venezuelan right-wing Parliamentary victory in 18 years. As we will further explain, this last statement is neither reckless nor exaggerated.
HC's sentence is the result of a consultation carried out by the Venezuelan Executive branch through PDVSA (Venezuelan oil state company) who is obliged to submit into Parliament hearings enabling them to interact financially with investment companies involved in Venezuela’s oil developments, "Joint Ventures" or consortiums. PDVSA, due to Parliament's current situation, submitted a way to form new joint ventures and bring over investments to HC's scrutiny.
In paragraph 1 replied says as follows: "On the basis of declared Unconstitutional Omission (of Parliament), we consider (HC's Constitutional Chamber) that the Executive branch has no impediment with authorizing joint ventures in the nature established by article 33 of the Organic Hydrocarbons Law, and the National Executive is required to inform the Constitutional Chamber of all circumstances pertinent to said agreements and conditions. As well as, any subsequent modification of conditions, the Chamber must be informed". The crux is, understanding the only function the SCJ assumes which is explicitly stated in its court sentence.
This means that, the SCJ should be notified of the PDVSA’s associations, enabling it to ensure compliance with the current Hydrocarbons Law, and nothing else. They authorize the President to continue leading, working, and taking pertinent actions in order to overcome the current economic situation surrounding the "Economic and State of Emergency".
What do Chavism' Enemies Bet on Inside and Outside Venezuela?
No one should doubt that PDVSA and Venezuela require an increase on foreign investment and capital flow, even more if needed in vital areas susceptible to national economy, clear examples such as national oil developments and the Hugo Chávez Orinoco Oil Belt, the largest oil project in the world. We must ask ourselves, what does the parliament want to accomplish by boycotting this decision? Are they betting on the resurgence of the Venezuelan economic situation?
Declaring a "coup d’état" and “disintegration of Parliament" is an extreme reaction of the right-wing in Venezuela and abroad, forming part of a chaotic and interventionist scheme sponsored by anti-Chavism inside and outside Venezuela. A disproportionate political intoxication and acceleration of events is happening right now -simultaneously- on several fronts.
The United States and other obedient countries to their foreign agenda move pieces and react, ignoring legal obedience to Venezuelan HC. This issu must be addressed precautously. Few hours after the HC’s ruling, Luis Almagro, OAS Secretary General, called for a new "emergency meeting" of it's Permanent Council to declare Venezuela as an outlaw state, increasing confrontation intensity. It seems that boycott towards Venezuela escalating in ways that are increasingly consistent and at the same time unusual.