The Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ), the nation’s top court, released a surprise ruling yesterday which redraws the rules for the National Assembly and severely restricts its legislative powers.
According to the ruling, the National Assembly must now conduct “popular consultations” before approving any new laws. The ruling appears to essentially mean that the National Assembly must conduct surveys at the national level to measure public perceptions about proposed laws before approving them, effectively making each law a referendum. It is not exactly clear how this requirement will play out in practice.
The ruling also requires the National Assembly to seek budget approval from Maduro’s office for any new proposed law. In other words, no new law can be passed without first obtaining Maduro’s personal approval, as the TSJ made it clear that the requirement was “essential and absolute”.
The ruling stems from a 2011 case that the opposition (which was then a minority) launched against the PSUV in the National Assembly. Until yesterday, the case was thought to have been resting in the judicial graveyard since no ruling had come of it for five years.
Since December 30, 2015, the TSJ has issued 11 rulings limiting, restricting or otherwise diminishing the power of the National Assembly to legislate.
Beer Industry: Polar Only Company Affected by Material Shortages
The executive director of the Camara Venezolana de Fabricantes de Cervezas [Venezuelan Chamber of Beer Manufacturers] (CAVEFACE), Omaira Sayago, told Union Radio today that Polar Enterprises is the only beer producer in the country that is suffering from material shortages. Sayago said:
When it comes to the beer industry, this situation is only affecting the Polar brewery.
On Thursday, Polar announced that it would be forced to shut down all of its brewery operations on April 29, since the government had not approved any new money for purchasing and importing raw materials for production.
Polar is the largest and most successful private business in the country. Its president, Lorenzo Mendoza, is the frequent target of vicious verbal attacks by Maduro and other high-ranking PSUV officials.
In February, Maduro called Mendoza a “real thief” during a televised speech. In October, during another televised speech, Maduro said that Mendoza should be imprisoned after a private conversation he had with a Venezuelan economist surfaced, in which the two men talked about the possibility of Venezuela having to ask the International Monetary Fund for help.
Maduro Asks for Help with Electricity Plan
Speaking in a televised speech that aired earlier today, Maduro called on all Venezuelans to help him deal with the “real electricity emergency” affecting the country. Maduro urged citizens to use electricity sparingly, and said that he has personally chastised people for wasting water and electrical power:
I’ve stopped and reprimanded public places where they’re wasting water and electricity.
Maduro said that the price of electricity is “almost free”, and that perhaps this might be one of the reasons why Venezuela waste it, such as by using more than one electrical appliance at a time.
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