Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz spoke out against Wednesday’s Supreme Court decisions against the National Assembly for the first time in a public address early this morning, calling the ruling evidence of “a break in the constitutional order” in the country. Diaz’s public break with the official government line are unprecedented in the Maduro era.
Diaz—a lifelong uncritical supporter of the PSUV—also called on Venezuelans to “reflect” on the current situation in the country “so that we may walk on democratic paths”.
The recent decisions from the [Supreme Court] (…) contain evidence of various violations of the constitutional order and the state model consecrated in our constitution, which equates with a break in constitutional order. It is my obligation to announce before the country my high degree of concern with this event.
The comments sent shockwaves throughout Venezuela as Diaz became the highest-ranked PSUV official in recent years to take aim at her own party.
Diaz’s criticism also puts the Maduro in the uncomfortable position of having to take sides on a conflict involving two of the state’s most powerful institutions: the Supreme Court and the Public Ministry, which is in charge of the administration of justice in the country.
NA Springs on Opening from Public Ministry
The National Assembly reacted immediately to attorney general Diaz’s comments this morning by filing a formal complaint at the Public Ministry against the seven magistrates of the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia‘s (TSJ) Constitutional Chamber, who were the ones who issued the two rulings against the legislature this week.
The complaint was filed by a group of National Assembly deputies headed by deputy Juan Miguel Matheus. Speaking to reporters outside of the Public Ministry building in Caracas, Matheus called Maduro “a dictator”.
Maduro Calls National Defense Council Meeting
In Venezuela the constitution is clearly in effect, human rights are clearly in effect [as is] the people’s will, because we have a public and participatory democracy. Venezuela has a powerful democracy, democratic and participatory.
There’s a controversy that should be resolved with dialogue. We have to make sure that Venezuela is respected through the exercise of reason. That’s where the homeland’s life and the constitution is based, [which is] something that Venezuelans have to respect every day.
Maduro also said that he was convening a meeting of the National Defense Council tonight in order to resolve the fissure between the Supreme Court and the Public Ministry. It is not clear exactly when the meeting will take place. Maduro made the announcement by saying:
I, as Head of State, have taken on the task through dialogue and our constitution to resolve the impasse that exists between the Public Ministry and the Supreme Court, and convene the National Security Council [sic] for tonight in order to deliberate and arrive at a resolution that will strengthen the Venezuelan constitution and bring piece and tranquility to Venezuela.
The National Defense Council is a body whose existence is outlined in Article 323 of the constitution. The Council is headed by the President of the Republic and can involve the participation of other high-ranking government officials. In theory, the Council exists to deal with existential threats to the state and governance.
Maduro also called for unity in government, saying that “public institutions should work together to defend our sovereignty”, and warned that the perpetual threat of the “hidden right-wing” could take any opportunity to launch a coup d’etat against his government.
Allup: TSJ Will Backpedal on Rulings “in the Coming Hours”
Calling the TSJ magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber “criminals”, Allup also said that Maduro would let them fall on their swords “to save himself”.
Allup did not provide any sources for his statements.
UNASUR “Condemns” TSJ Rulings
UNASUR became the newest organization to add its voice to the chorus of condemnation against the TSJ’s rulings this week through a press release issued today. Part of the release reads:
The governments of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Uruguay, member states of the Union of South American States (UNASUR), condemn the situation created by the sentence from the Supreme Tribunal of Justice in Venezuela that affects the National Assembly in the country and the legislators chosen by elections in December 2015.
As countries in the region we reiterate our urgent call for the government of Venezuela to advance effectively towards applying concrete measures in conjunction with the opposition, adhering to the principles of the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Venezuela, in order to guarantee the effective separation of powers and respect for the rule of law and human rights, as well as for democratic institutions.
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