The country’s top court, the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ), got a new president today—Maikel Moreno Perez—after Gladys Gutierrez unexpectedly resigned from the role. Gutierrez, a close Chavez ally who ran for the governorship of Nueva Esparta in 1998, had been president of the TSJ since 2013.
Moreno was elected to the position by his fellow TSJ magistrates in a surprise vote. There have been rumours going back to at least November of last year that Gutierrez was suffering from health problems and that she was planning to leave the TSJ.
A tweet from a journalist named Miguel Salazar dated November 18 2016, while factually incorrect at the time, foreshadowed today’s vote:
Citing health reasons, magistrate Gladys Gutierrez has resigned as president of the TSJ and magistrate Maikel Moreno has replaced her.
Moreno Brings Two Murder Convictions to Position
Moreno spent two years in prison for the homicide of a man in Ciudad Bolivar in 1987. At the time, Moreno was working as a police officer in the DISIP, a police agency that would later become today’s SEBIN.
Moreno was convicted in 1989 of another homicide, this time that of a man called Ruben Gil Marquez. Moreno was subsequently fired from the DISIP, but was able to secure himself a release from prison just a year later.
He became a lawyer in 1995, and quickly began to climb the ranks of Chavez’s government, eventually making it to the apex of the Venezuelan judicial system.
Macri Calls For Democratic Charter Against Venezuela
Argentinian President Mauricio Macri voiced his support for applying article 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter against Venezuela through the Organization of American States (OAS), a move that would become the most important denunciation of the Maduro regime by a diplomatic body to date.
The Inter-American Democratic Charter is one of the founding documents of the OAS, and outlines a set of democratic and human rights standards that member nations must adhere to. Article 20 of the Charter allows for the suspension of any member state that stands against these standards (emphasis mine):
Article 20: In the event of an unconstitutional alteration of the constitutional regime that seriously impairs the democratic order in a member state, any member state or the Secretary General may request the immediate convocation of the Permanent Council to undertake a collective assessment of the situation and to take such decisions as it deems appropriate.
The Permanent Council, depending on the situation, may undertake the necessary diplomatic initiatives, including good offices, to foster the restoration of democracy.
If such diplomatic initiatives prove unsuccessful, or if the urgency of the situation so warrants, the Permanent Council shall immediately convene a special session of the General Assembly. The General Assembly will adopt the decisions it deems appropriate, including the undertaking of diplomatic initiatives, in accordance with the Charter of the Organization, international law, and the provisions of this Democratic Charter.
The necessary diplomatic initiatives, including good offices, to foster the restoration of democracy, will continue during the process.
Article 21 of the same document outlines the possibility of suspending a member state in the event that all other diplomatic measures to restore constitutional order fail:
Article 21: When the special session of the General Assembly determines that there has been an unconstitutional interruption of the democratic order of a member state, and that diplomatic initiatives have failed, the special session shall take the decision to suspend said member state from the exercise of its right to participate in the OAS by an affirmative vote of two thirds of the member states in accordance with the Charter of the OAS. The suspension shall take effect immediately.
The suspended member state shall continue to fulfill its obligations to the Organization, in particular its human rights obligations.
Notwithstanding the suspension of the member state, the Organization will maintain diplomatic initiatives to restore democracy in that state.
Macri, who is visiting Spain, told reporters in Madrid:
What we need to do urgently [in Venezuela] is a democratic process supervised by the international community, because the situation there is dramatic. The OAS has our support. We are on board to send whatever messages we can, including [applying] the Democratic Charter.
The OAS came close to suspending Venezuela as per the Charter last year. That initiative, spearheaded by OAS secretary general Luis Almagro, proved unsuccessful.
Venezuela Loses Right to Vote at UN
The United Nations (UN) informed Venezuela today that it had lost its right to vote at the organization’s meetings after the country failed to pay its annual administrative fees.
El Universal reports that this is the second time in the last three years that Venezuela has lost the right to vote at the UN, and that its debt with the organization has now climbed to $24 million.
Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Cape Verde, Libya and Sudan also had their voting rights revoked for the same reason.
Venezuelan Skier Warms Hearts with Embarrassing Performance
Adrian Solano was sent to represent Venezuela at the FSI Nordic World Ski Championship in Finland, which runs from February 22 to March 5.
Solano’s poor performance made a splash on social media. Solano struggled considerably to even stay upright on his skis and has earned himself the title of the “world’s worst skier”.
Below, a video of Solano’s performance on Wednesday:
Perhaps not surprisingly, Solano had never actually skied on snow prior to his run on Wednesday, having trained on skis with wheels in Venezuela.
Solano had planned to practice skiing on snow in Sweden for a month before the event, but he was detained in transit in Paris and was subsequently deported from the country.
Solano said that the authorities did not believe that he was a skier on his way to the FSI Championship. Instead, he claims that the authorities told him that they believed that he was trying to immigrate to France given the crisis gripping Venezuela.
After the ordeal, Solano said:
I missed a month of practice on the snow. But I am still trying because this is my dream.
Maybe I have fallen many times but what really counts is that I will always continue to rise.
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