Constitutional lawyer Juan Manuel Rafalli responded to yesterday’s creation of the Nacional Communal Council (NCC) inside the National Assembly, a pseudo-assembly created by the PSUV to operate within the country’s legislature. Rafalli’s assessment of the was blunt, as he told El Nacional that “there is no law” that allows any organization to have legislative powers beyond those of the National Assembly, and that it violates Article 187 of the Venezuelan Constitution.
Rafalli also told the newspaper that while the Venezuelan law does allow for the creation of communal councils, they are a very specific type of body that has clear jurisdictional and temporal parameters:
What the commune law establishes is something that can be applied in very time-specific cases and in very specific situations. When it comes to legal matters, propping up a body to operate above the National Assembly is unconstitutional.
The NCC is supposed to operate by having members of the country’s communes – local organizations spread throughout the country – elect members to the body so that it may address legal issues, much like the National Assembly operates.
Rafalli also explained his theory on the PSUV’s creation of the NCC:
If the executive branch insists on applying this, it would be an attack on our institutions and on the rule of law. I think that this is all part of a political play to try to dull the results of the December 6 elections.
Rafalli also spoke to Union Radio today, and looked ahead to the first day of the new opposition-controlled National Assembly, saying that the body must meet as required by the Constitution on that day and elect its executive body. Rafalli said:
Should anything else other than that happen, it would be in absolute ignorance of the Constitution: in other words, a coup d’etat against parliament.
Gerardo Blyde, a constitutional lawyer and mayor of the Baruta municipality of Caracas, agreed with Rafalli, saying that the NCC “does not legally exist”.
Speaking on his weekly television show last night, Maduro said that the NCC would have full legislative powers, which – if true – would essentially make it a shadow legislature.
Flores’ Nephews Set to Appear in Court Tomorrow; Lawyers Leave Case
Efrain and Francisco Flores, the two nephews of First Lady Cilia Flores accused of attempting to smuggle 800 kilograms of cocaine into the United States, are scheduled to appear before a judge tomorrow for the second time since they were detained on November 10.
Later in the day, the Squire Patton Boggs law firm that was representing Efrain announced that they were leaving the case. According to a document submitted to the court late today, it appears that Efrain dismissed his team. Part of the document reads:
… after considerable consultation yesterday and today with out client, our client has requested our withdrawal as his counsel in this case and seeks the appointment of a court-appointed attorney. We believe this request is in our client’s est interests.
This second appearance was originally scheduled to take place on December 2, but the judge moved it to tomorrow to allow the defense to access “certain recordings and electronic communications”, presumably part of the evidence the prosecutor has compiled in the case.
If tomorrow’s hearing takes place as scheduled, the men will have two options:
- Plead guilty or no contest, in which case the trial would move to the sentencing phase.
- Plead not guilty, in which case a trial would take place to establish their guilt.
The men face the possibility of life in prison if convicted.
Neither Maduro nor Flores have acknowledged their nephews’ detention.
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