Venezuelan National Assembly Abides by Supreme Court Ruling

Suspends three deputies

Session of the Venezuelan National Assembly. Photo: AVN
Session of the Venezuelan National Assembly. Photo: AVN

HAVANA TIMES (dpa) – To pave the way to the resumption of legislative activity, the leadership of Venezuela’s National Assembly said today that it will abide by a Supreme Court (TSJ) ruling, withdrawing the credentials of three legislators who were sworn in despite the court ordering their suspension.

“We will abide by and observe the ruling of the Electoral Chamber of the TSJ that annulled the electoral proclamation of three deputies from the Amazon region,” said the president of the Assembly, Henry Ramos.

With the measure, the Assembly responded to the Supreme Court ruling that declared the legislature in contempt and warned that its decisions would be void.

The suspension of the three deputies left the state of Amazonas without representation and the Assembly with 163 seats instead of 167. One pro-government deputy had also been suspended by the court. The opposition still has a two-thirds majority, with 109 deputies, against 54 of the party of President Nicolas Maduro.

The controversy had paralyzed the session on Tuesday but today, after the deputies questioned asked to be divested, the one chamber legislature resumed discussions with the governing party demanding confirmation that the Assembly would abide by the rulings of the Supreme Court.

Ramos put to a vote acceptance of the letter requesting the divestiture of the three deputies and confirmed the vote of the majority thus complying with the disposition of the decision of the Electoral Chamber.

“We have no problem saying that we observe and abide by the decision of the Supreme Court,” said Ramos, responding to the demands of the ruling bloc.

The three deputies, Julio Ygarza, Nirma Guarulla and Romel Guzamana, were sworn in last week by the Assembly directorate, challenging the ruling of the Supreme Court which annulled their proclamation, after admitting a legal challenge to the election results submitted by the governing United Socialist Party.

A representation of Amazonas, accompanied by leaders of more than 20 indigenous groups, went to the headquarters of the Supreme Court to demand respect for the popular will expressed in the elections of December 6.

Ygarza led the demonstration and said the ruling meant taking from the deputies the mandate given them by the people.

“The government wants to close the Parliament and leave voiceless the state of Amazonas,” he said.

The governor of Amazonas, Liborio Guarulla, an opposition leader, said that with its decision the Supreme Court” is taking Amazonas off the map” of Venezuela.

“This court shoots first and then calls on people to visit the Electoral Chamber to claim their rights, after having revoked the deputies,” he complained.

He added that Amazonas is ready when the authorities decide to repeat the elections in the country’s south.

Assembly President Ramos made public on Tuesday night that the three deputies asked to be temporarily suspended while they assume their legal defense.

“This is a government strategy to try to annul the power of the Assembly,” he said.

The ruling party had challenged the election results in Amazonas, denouncing alleged irregularities. The head of the ruling bloc, Hector Rodriguez, said there was clear evidence “of the buying of votes and disrespect for our indigenous people in the Amazon.”

The government deputy and former head of the Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, stressed that the leadership of the Assembly was required to comply with the ruling of the Supreme Court or risk continuing in contempt.

Cabello criticized a letter from the Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro, who urged President Nicolas Maduro to respect the results of the legislative elections.

“Preventing a single deputy from taking their seat is a direct blow to the people’s will,” said Almagro, who reminded Maduro that he had publicly committed to respect the election results.

“There is no body in the world more discredited than the OAS,” Cabello countered. “We thought we had hit bottom with (Jose Miguel) Insulza, but Almagro reached the basement. He can do what he wants; the OAS is an organization totally questioned.”

The legislature, in its first week of sessions, has pending debate on an emergency decree President Maduro sent to the Assembly in the midst of the country’s severe economic crisis exacerbated by the fall in oil prices.