Early this afternoon, the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ), Venezuela’s top court, issued a ruling accusing three National Assembly deputies of four crimes each, including treason, and stripped the parliamentary immunity of one of them. The ruling came a day after Juan Guaido warned Venezuelans via a recorded address that the Maduro regime would make a “crazy move” today, including potentially dissolving the opposition-controlled National Assembly.
Today’s ruling accuses deputies Juan Pablo Garcia, Jose Guerra and Tomas Guanipa of committing the following crimes: treason, insurrection, rebellion, and instigating the public to disobey the law. According the ruling, the three deputies were caught in flagrante delicto, which is the one condition needed under Venezuelan law to strip a legislator of her diplomatic immunity before first going through an impeachment process.
A separate ruling stripped deputy Garcia of his parliamentary immunity. Guerra and Guanipa had their parliamentary immunity stripped by the TSJ back in June of this year.
The decision from the TSJ means that the three opposition deputies are vulnerable to arrest.
With today’s ruling, the TSJ has stripped the parliamentary immunity of thirteen opposition legislators, forcing many of them to flee or face arrest.
Cabello Threatens Early Parliamentary Elections
Today’s decision from the TSJ was foreshadowed by a message from Juan Guaido, which he issued last night in a video that he posted on social media. In that video, Guaido said that the opposition had received information that the Maduro regime was about to move against the National Assembly, and that the move might include the dissolution of the legislative body.
Speaking at today’s meeting of the Constituent Assembly, Diosdado Cabello–the body’s president–warned the opposition that there could be early parliamentary elections.
Parliamentary term limits mean that there should be legislative elections next year. Historically, these elections take place at the end of the year, typically in September, with the new parliament being sworn in the following January.
During his speech today, Cabello pointed out that the constitution does not mandate that the elections take place in December. He said
[Even if] you cry, if it rains, or if there’s lighting… they’re coming. We have to give them a date. The constitution says that they have to happen in 2020. It doesn’t say that it has to be March, or May… no, it says 20202. We could move the date forward…
Moving the parliamentary elections forward would mean an early dissolution of the National Assembly, which is the last branch of government that is not under the control of the ruling PSUV party. While the Maduro regime has effectively de-fanged the National Assembly since it came under the control of the opposition in 2015, its early dissolution would nevertheless be a blow to the country’s opposition forces and those who dissent from the Maduro regime.
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