The Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ), the country’s top court, issued a ruling today in which it declared that the economic emergency decree has been extended for a period of 60 days.
Yesterday, the National Assembly debated the decree extension, and voted against it.
The TSJ announced the decision through a press release, part of which reads:
[The decree] gives priority to matters of economic security and is justified, moreover, within the actual Latin American and global economic context, and is therefore proportionate, relevant, useful and necessary to the development and [protection] of the constitutional right to the protection of society by the state, which is indispensable to the construction of a society that is just and peace-loving, and for the prosperity and well-being of the people…
The TSJ’s ruling is the latest in a series of moves by the court that appear to undermine the National Assembly’s power to legislate. The National Assembly voted to reject the economic emergency decree when it was first proposed, but the TSJ ruled that it was in fact valid.
The Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela unequivocally states that only the National Assembly can approve the extension of emergency decrees. Article 338 of the Constitution states:
Article 338: (…) The role of approving for the extension of the state of exception [like the economic emergency decree] belongs to the National Assembly. An organic law will regulate the states of exception and will determine the measures that it will take.
Opposition Outraged, Not Surprised By TSJ Ruling
National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup reacted to the TSJ’s ruling today by saying that “nothing surprising” can come from the nation’s top court, which he accuses of committing “judicial crimes”.
There has just been a new attack, a new foul by the government against common sense and democracy (…) the TSJ has validated the extension of the so-called economic emergency decree.
Torrealba made the comments during his radio program, La Fuerza es la Union, where he reminded listeners that according to the Constitution, only the National Assembly can approve the extension of an economic emergency decree.
Venezuelan Business To Plead Guilty in US Case
Abraham Jose Shiera, a Venezuelan business who operated out of the United States, will plead guilty on Tuesday to charges of bribery stemming from his relationship with high-ranking PDVSA officials. According to EFE, Shiera paid out more than $1 billion in bribes to top members of the state-owned oil company between 2009 and 2014. In return, companies associated with Shiera received lucrative contracts from PDVSA.
Shiera was arrested in December of last year along with another Venezuelan businessman named Roberto Rincon, who is facing similar charges stemming from the same case and will head to trial on April 25.
Rincon’s role in the bribery scheme appears to be larger than Shieras, according to court documents. Rincon is accused of being personally responsible for bribing PDVSA officials to the tune of $750 million. The money trail led authorities to investigate 730 bank accounts, many of them based in Switzerland.
US authorities also allege that Rincon was a close friend of PSUV deputy Hugo Carvajal, who was himself arrested in Aruba last year over his alleged role in a drug trafficking organization.
Maduro Receives Cuba’s Highest Honour
Earlier today, Cuban President Raul Castro presented Maduro with the Orden Nacional Jose Marti [Jose Marti National Order], the country’s top honour. Maduro received the medal at a ceremony in Havana. Upon receiving the award, Maduro said:
I accept this award – although I personally feel like I haven’t earned it yet – I accept it as a promise of loyalty to the liberators (…) this award goes out to the people of Venezuela, which hasn’t surrendered even though it’s facing an unconventional war.
Maduro also said that Cuba and Venezuela are united via a “blood pact”, and that he was hoping to continue to work closely with the island nation into the years ahead.
Maduro was accompanied to Havana by an entourage that included his wife and National Assembly deputy, Cilia Flores, along with Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez, Vice-President of the Economy Miguel Perez Abad, and Minister of Oil and Mining Eulogio Del Pino.
El Nuevo Herald has a gallery of images from Maduro’s visit, which you can find here.
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