Thursday, March 30, 2017

An unconstitutional interruption of the democratic order?


On May 30, 2016, Luis Almagro, the OAS Secretary General, submitted his first detailed report outlining the crisis in Venezuela.  This report triggered the application of Article 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter (Democratic Charter), which requests the convening of the Permanent Council, in the event of an unconstitutional alteration of the democratic regime of a member state.  The OAS, if it decides to invoke the Democratic Charter, can decide to suspend Venezuela from the OAS by a 2/3 vote of its members.  On June 23, 2016, the OAS Permanent Council met, discussed the situation for 2½ hours but took no decision.

On March 14, 2017, Luis Almagro presented his updated report on Venezuela to the Permanent Council.

On March 21, 2017, the opposition bloc of Venezuelan politicians requested the OAS to convene the Permanent Council to consider applying the Democratic Charter to Venezuela.

On Monday, March 27, 2017, in a ruling, the Venezuelan Supreme Court, which has consistently supported President Nicolas Maduro, stripped the members of Congress (who in the majority are opponents of the President) of their immunity, ostensibly for contempt.  At the beginning of 2016, the Supreme Court declared the National Assembly in contempt because the Congress failed to comply with its judgments.  In June 2005, the Criminal Chamber of the Venezuelan Supreme Court authorized the application of military law to civilians.  This new ruling authorized President Maduro to apply military law to  members of Congress. 

On Tuesday, March 28, the OAS debated the situation in Venezuela again, but rather than calling for the application of the Democratic Charter, or the release of political prisoners or the holding of elections, 20 of the 34 active member states voted to support dialogue and the search for solutions (“a road map for Venezuela”).

On Wednesday, March 29, the Venezuelan Supreme Court ruled that as long as the National Assembly remains in contempt of past court rulings, it would take over its responsibilities.   Opponents of President Maduro charged that the Supreme Court had dissolved the Legislature and that a dictatorship has been installed.

Given the latest events, will the OAS be motivated to act more decisively?  

1 comment:

  1. The Supreme Court has issued a revised decision, but it is unclear how that affects matters. The overall political situation remains unstable.


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