The Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ), the country’s top court, issued a call today for the Constituent Assembly to remove interim president Juan Guaido’s diplomatic immunity, setting the stage for legal action against the opposition leader.
The announcement came via TSJ Maikel Moreno, who said in a televised address that it was making the request based on the fact that Guaido has “violated measures imposed [upon him]” by the Court. Earlier this year, the TSJ banned Guaido from leaving the country, but he disobeyed the order and went on a week-long tour of Latin America.
According to Venezuelan law, legislators like Guaido enjoy immunity from prosecution. Unless a legislator is caught in the act of committing a crime, he or she must be stripped of their parliamentary immunity before they can be prosecuted for any crimes they are alleged to have committed. In other words, the stripping of a legislators’ parliamentary immunity is the first step to prosecuting them.
The move is largely symbolic, since the Maduro regime has arrested Guaido in the past despite his immunity.
A lawyer by the name of Juan Manuel Raffalli told El Nacional that the TSJ cannot ask the Constituent Assembly to strip Guaido of his immunity, because that task falls on the National Assembly alone.
Guaido Brushes TSJ Order Aside
Speaking at a rally in the San Bernardino neighbourhood of Caracas, Guaido brushed aside the news from the TSJ, arguing that the Court is illegitimate and thus incapable of issuing such a decision.
During the rally, Guaido said:
This is [political] persecution. This means political murder, but we’re going to continue to move forward towards freedom.
At one point during the rally, someone set off what appeared to be a tear gas grenade at the rally, sending some of the attendees scrambling for air:
During the rally, Guaido also said that he measure from the TSJ today is another sign that the government is “afraid” of the Venezuelan people.
Cabello Calls for Pro-Gov’t Protest on April 6
Five days after the opposition called for nationwide protests against the Maduro regime on April 6, PSUV vice president Diosdado Cabello called on government supporters to take to the streets on the same day.
Speaking during a press conference, Cabello said that the point of the protests would be “to defend sovereignty and against imperialism”.
On the government’s ability to mobilize supporters, Cabello said:
Chavismo is very well organized, well prepared.
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