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Constitutional experts weighed on the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia ruling published yesterday which appears to grant people with dual citizenship the right to hold the office of President of the Republic, contrary to what the Constitution says.

There is a relatively popular theory among opposition supporters that Maduro was actually born in Colombia. If true, this TSJ ruling would appear to pave the way for him remaining in power even if he had truly been born in Colombia.

Constitutional lawyer Jose Vicente Haro told El Nacional that there are several odd facts about the ruling, which stems from a question over whether or not to grant a Venezuelan/French/U.S. citizen a Venezuela passport. For one, Haro points out that the ruling references legal provisions that appear to have nothing to do with the question before the court.

For example, Haro says that the ruling makes reference to Section 132 of the Penal Code, which makes it illegal for Venezuelans to “destroy the republican political form” by “asking for foreign intervention” on Venezuelan political affairs. For Haro, this reference speaks directly to the fact that Venezuelan citizens both in the country and abroad – including National Assembly deputies – have made repeated calls for the Organization of American States to sanction the Maduro government for its alleged human rights violations.

The ruling also cites Section 41 of the Constitution, which explicitly states that the President of the Republic may only hold one citizenship: Venezuelan. Haro said:

Why cite Article 41 and then, at the end, say that the Venezuelan nationality will take precedence over others in people with multiple nationalities?

While Haro agrees that the ruling may be laying the foundation for Maduro to remain in power were it revealed that he is in fact Colombia, constitutional lawyer Jose Ignacio Hernandez disagrees.

For Hernandez, the matter is clear: the ruling does not mention the office of President of the Republic. Hernandez views the ruling as simply re-stating a fact:

The [Supreme Court] has affirmed something that is true: the rights granted by the Venezuelan nationality are not lost [by having] other nationalities.

Constitutional lawyer Juan Manuel Raflli agrees with Hernandez, but adds that even if Maduro was born in Colombia, all he’d have to do to be eligible to hold office is renounce his Colombian citizenship prior to taking office.

Student Union Leader: Maduro’s Promises Too Little, Too Late

Hasler Iglesias, the head of the Federacion de Centros Universitarios at the Universidad Central de Venezuela spoke today on Maduro’s announcement yesterday that he would double student bursaries to Bs. 8,000.

Iglesias said that the bursary increase is still not enough to cover basic expenses, given the skyrocketing inflation rate. Iglesias said:

Students are dropping out of school because they have no means to support themselves.

Iglesias also lamented the fact that Maduro did not make any mention of other concerns the students have raised, including the derelict state of the university’s cafeteria and the fact that science labs do not have proper equipment.

On the general state of education at the university, Iglesias said:

There are students who faint in the classrooms because they haven’t eaten. There have been robberies and murders inside the university.

For Iglesias, Maduro’s announcement doubling bursaries is not at all encouraging. He said that on November 21 of last year, the national government also doubled bursaries, from Bs. 2,000 to Bs. 4,000, but that students have yet to receive that increase.

He also connected the struggle of the Venezuelan university with the struggle facing the rest of Venezuelan society:

The universities will not save themselves if Venezuela is not saved.

Survey: 72% Don’t Believe “Economic War” Theory

The results of a Datanalisis survey released today reveal that 71.8% of Venezuelans do not believe in the “economic war” theory proposed by the government which blames all of the economic problems in Venezuela on a shadowy cabal of foreign and domestic enemies. The same survey found that 70% of Venezuelans believe that the country’s private industries are doing all they can to produce as much as possible to alleviate the scarcity of food and basic necessities.

Below, more results from the survey:

  • 71% lay blame for the economic crisis on the national government.
  • 65.9% believe that the the government’s price regulation scheme is responsible for scarcity.
  • 92.5% say that they are only about to shop twice a week, and are only allowed to buy a certain number of items.
  • 96.1% say that their ability to find basic necessities for their homes has been affected.

Datanalisis also revealed that the scarcity level in Caracas – the likelihood that basic necessities will be impossible to find regardless of establishment – currently sits at 82.8%.

NGO Counts 168 Political Arrests in May

The head of the Foro Penal Venezolano [Venezuelan Penal Forum] (FPV), Alfredo Romero, announced through his Twitter account today that the organization had tallied 168 politically-motivated arrests in the country in all of May. Out of that number, 75 are awaiting trial, 14 are already serving sentences, 32 have been conditionally released, and 47 were released unconditionally.

The FPV calculates that since 2014, 4,029 people have been arrested in the country for political reasons.

Gov’t Extends Shortened Work Week

The national government announced an extension to the shortened work week measure it announced last month in an attempt to curb electricity use in the country. The 15-day extension was announced by Cojedes state governor Erika Farias from the Miraflores Palace in Caracas.

Farias explained the reason for the extension:

Due to the fact that the rain we were counting on was not enough, we will continue to wait for the optimal conditions in order to give our people the best service.

The measure also means that all elementary and secondary schools in the country will continue to be closed each Friday.


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