Venezuela

Venezuela Socialist-Controlled Supreme Court Shuts Down Legislative Branch

In a move the Organization of American States called a "self-inflicted coup."

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Jose Sierralta/newzulu/Newscom

After a months-long standoff in Venezuela that included the Socialist-controlled Supreme Court overturning many of the opposition-controlled National Assembly's decisions, the court has explicitly ruled it will now act as the legislative branch, Reuters reports. "As long as the situation of contempt in the National Assembly continues," the court ruled, "this constitutional chamber guarantees congressional functions will be exercised by this chamber or another chosen organ."

The secretary general of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, called the action a "self-inflicted coup d´état perpetrated by the Venezuelan regime against the National Assembly." Several Latin American countries, including Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico, expressed concerns and Peru withdrew its envoy, which Venezuela's foreign minister called "rude support for the violent and extremist sectors in Venezuela."

The opposition won control of the National Assembly in late 2015 as the long socialist project in Venezuela was coming to a brutal and inevitable head. Since then, the government has doubled-down on the kind of centrally planned and redistributionist policies that brought Venezuela to where it is in the first place. Instead of changing course, the government has found more and more scapegoats and "enemies" to blame for the economic crisis. Earlier this month, the socialist government accused bakers of waging "economic war" against the country and started arresting them for making bread rolls.

The United States and the European Union also chimed in on the latest developments in Venezuela. A spokesperson for the State Department said the U.S. condemned the "decision to usurp the power of the democratically elected National Assembly" and called it "a serious setback for democracy," while the E.U. called for a "clear electoral calendar." The opposition has called for early presidential elections as the popularity of President Nicolas Maduro continues to scrape new lows. The government responded by accusing a "right-wing regional pact" of plotting against it. State-controlled Telesur TV called the characterization of the court's decision as a coup "fake news," insisting the court's ruling was because the occupants of 3 of the 167 seats in the legislature were accused of voting irregularities. The opposition controls 112 seats. Maduro tried to dissolve the legislature last year after it attempted to launch a recall effort against him.

U.S. responses to the crisis in Venezuela in recent years have largely been profoundly unproductive. A few months after the opposition party wrested control of the legislature, President Obama renewed the U.S. declaration of Venezuela as a a "national security risk," providing Maduro and the socialists new ammunition to smear opposition as foreign stooges. Yesterday, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) joined Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in condemning the court's power grab, calling it "an attack on what remained of democratic institutions in Venezuela" and Maduro "an unhinged dictator who has systematically dismantled democracy in this country." The two also met with various opposition lawmakers. Menendez, who has called for an "independent" investigation of Russia's alleged interference in the U.S. election, should be keenly aware of how his words and actions could be weaponized by the ruling party in Venezuela and used against the opposition.

For Venezuelans, liberation from socialism won't come from the U.S. or the OAS or any foreign actor. Instead it will come from within, with the help of the kind of decentralized technology that is challenging state power around the world, like Bitcoin:

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  1. “As long as the situation of contempt in the National Assembly continues,” the court ruled, “this constitutional chamber guarantees congressional functions will be exercised by this chamber or another chosen organ.”

    Reminds me of what Obama was essentially saying when he was president with his executive orders and we know the proggies would like the supreme court to do the same to the republican controlled congress and many lower courts are acting that way with Trump. So i see little difference between Venezuela and what the left is trying to do in America.

    1. The amusing part of this is going to see how the Maduro supporters in the US, Canada and Europe justify it.

      1. I’ll bet they get a lot of support by people who watch Democracy Now!

        1. You don’t have to watch the Sesame Street Supreme Court here in the Muppet Republic of Cambridge:

          We have Telesur too !

    2. You mean like the random judges staying the same travel ban from Trump that was OK when Obama did it?

    3. The difference between here and there is that we’ve got smug, college-educated white people leading the charge whereas they’ve got those brown-skinned little people what don’t know no better in charge. Socialism will work here just fine as long as you’ve got people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton shouldering the white man’s burden, helping out the little ignorant savages that don’t know or appreciate what’s for their own good and re-educating the deplorable ones who keep voting against their own self-interest because they’ve been brain-washed by the Kochtopus.

      1. An autistic pink Kochtopus is about to replace the Grand Old Snuffleus on PBS 2

    4. In this case, the courts are *supporting* what the executive, Maduro, is doing, in overturning legislative actions.
      In the other, courts are *opposing* what the executive is doing.

      I suppose it depend on whether you generally think that the executive should be allowed to rule through EO and the courts should support them in that.

      It’s possible to believe that the executive should be held in check by the courts, and hence simultaneously oppose what Obama did, and support what the courts are now doing against Trump, and oppose what the Venezuelan courts are doing here. The judicial branch (in the US) can’t pass new laws, all they can do is strike down existing ones. They’re the most libertarian branch of government as a result. In this case, of course the Venezuelan court is trying to usurp legislative power in support of the executive, which is a violation of that mission.

      1. Shouldn’t is not the same as can’t or hasn’t. I see plenty of news laws and taxes coming out if the judiciary these days.

        1. The tax penalty for the ACA was passed by congress.

          1. No, justice roberts, the penalty was passed by congress. The tax was passed by the supreme court (after it was deemed not a tax for the purposes of anti-injuction). Duality apparently is not constrained to the subatomic world.

            1. Rather, the court renamed the penalty a tax.

              I would note that the whole sage should have opened up greater discussion of how inevitably ‘problematic’ the concept of prohibition by taxation is.

              Most people acknowledge that the penalty could’ve just as easily been written as a tax, been practically the same, but avoided the legal scuffle. This in itself is a big problem. It means the government can legally compel the purchase of *any* good or service (or ‘partially prohibit’ the purchase, as with excessive tobacco taxes) via taxation, such as by taxing the failure to purchase something. This is a dangerous precedent, as there is no consumer choice that is not subject to basically any regulation by the state, as long as penalization is done under the auspices of taxation.

        2. New laws? Some of their interpretations may fairly be called “legislating from the bench”, but I don’t think they have made up anything that you could call a law or a tax without some legislation as a starting point.

          1. I guess you could call the gay marraige thing “new law” since it did force states to do something. Which I think was a poor decision. The positive right to marriage is dumb. They should have just told states not to discriminate and left the details to them.

          2. Throughout the history of “desegregation” litigation, federal courts have ordered, under pain of contempt, school boards and city councils to impose taxes to fund social engineering schemes. As a practical matter the federal courts have a long history of imposing taxes.

      2. I suppose it depend on whether you generally think that the executive should be allowed to rule through EO and the courts should support them in that.

        If the law allows a specific EO, and nobody cared if Obama issued a similar EO, then it is just a random judge deciding who gets to be an elected official, President in this case.

    5. Except Obama isn’t the supreme court and didn’t try to close down the legislature.

      Let’s not get too carried away here.

      1. Same difference just different branch in that he claimed to make EO’s because he dissavoed the congress and he specifically decided to not enforce some of their laws when its his job to enforce those laws.
        He didn’t shut it down but he ignored it and tried to pass laws without going through congress, treaties and such. its no different then shutting them down.

        1. Yeah, there was literally no difference between America the last 8 years and Venezuela. Come on, that’s absurd. Obama definitely used executive power too much (as did Bush, and many other presidents, before him) but it’s a false equivalence to say he was the same as Maduro and Venezuela’s ruling government. It’s like all the left-wing people who think Trump is just as bad as whatever dictator they decide to compare him to (Hitler, Mussolini, Putin, etc.).

          And the second part of your original comment about courts blocking executive actions being the same thing is baffling. Courts are there to keep in the executive (and legislature) in check. Sometimes they make wrong decisions, but even granting that, it’s still a big leap from Venezuela where they’re letting the executive do whatever it wants and are essentially taking over the role of the legislature.

          In a time where the Republicans control the presidency, both branches of the legislature, and the vast majority of governorships and state legislatures, people who make everything about the threat of Obama and the Democrats are reminding me of the “But Bush!” people screaming about Republicans when the Democrats held the vast majority of power after the 08 election.

        2. There are some similarities, but to claim that there is little difference is a bit much.

  2. where did my brilliant comment go?

    1. there it is nevermind

      1. The squirrelz were taking a moment to bask in it’s glow.

  3. I remain unconvinced that BitCoin will free Venezuela from authoritarian Socials rule. Yes, it will allow people to get by, but it won’t stop the police or army from rounding up and imprisoning dissenters or errant bread bakers.

    1. “Socialist rule”

  4. “U.S. responses to the crisis in Venezuela in recent years have largely been profoundly unproductive.”

    Not sure what to make of Obama’s action, on the one hand the timing might have been counterproductive (given Obama’s sympathies this may not have been accidental) on the other hand, it was a fair assessment, particularly given that these recent actions have shown the Assembly to be no threat to Venezuela’s socialist death spiral.

    Likewise Menendez and Rubio’s remarks aren’t exactly at odds with reality.

    Seems rather weak of Ed to criticize without offering any plausible alternative approach.

    1. There isn’t any plausible alternative.

      Besides, Venezuela is too good a bad example to waste.

      1. “There isn’t any plausible alternative.”

        Personally I agree, but that only begs the question of why criticize at all?

    2. Yep, Ed’s an asshole – just criticizing somebody else’s attempt to build a perpetual-motion machine instead of doing something constructive and helping build a perpetual-motion machine of his own.

    3. Criticism just emboldens the opposition, which is why ed just criticized the criticizers… Er, hold on, it must make sense somehow…

    4. Borges also called on the international community to “sound the alarms” and help pressure the socialist government of Nicolas Maduro to respect the Constitution and call for elections.

      “This is a dictatorship and the world has to help Venezuelans to sound all the alarms,” Borges said.

      “We need the solidarity of all countries to continue the pressure (?) to carry out this year, as it is mandated by law and by the Constitution, elections for governors, mayors and also a general election,” he said.

      Borges announced a national protest this weekend and urged Venezuelans to raise their voice.

  5. Yesterday, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) joined Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in condemning the court’s power grab, calling it “an attack on what remained of democratic institutions in Venezuela” and Maduro “an unhinged dictator who has systematically dismantled democracy in this country.” The two also met with various opposition lawmakers. Menendez, who has called for an “independent” investigation of Russia’s alleged interference in the U.S. election, should be keenly aware of how his words and actions could be weaponized by the ruling party in Venezuela and used against the opposition.

    Bullshit. Call it like it is. People said the same crap about Reagan calling out the Soviets, and they were wrong, and he was right.

    1. As if the Socialists won’t just make shit up either way? It would appear the author of this piece is entirely unfamiliar with how state run socialist media works. It makes no difference what our government says, they will be quoted as being ‘Baby Eating Evil’ either way. Telling our government to lie to us to somehow protect Venezuela is, in a word, retarded.

  6. Thanks a lot joe

  7. HAHAHAHAH. Bitcoin will save them?! I can see the exchange now.

    “Your feeble guns and prisons are no match for my pi nano miners! I can generate 50billion keys per SECOND! Look upon my entropy and TREMBLE!”

    BANG.

    The end.

    1. Well if they use those bitcoins to purchase and smuggle weapons in then they will be able to fire back. Bitcoin won’t single handily destroy the socialist regime but it can help provide the opposition with the tools needed to do so. It also provides an internal contrasting economic system to develop in the nation which can help the people understand the benefits of a free market system. Which is far superior way of educating the populous (IMO) then having a US politicians make a speech. If any politicians really wants to help the Venezuelans then they should be doing everything to protect things like bitcoins and encryption here in the US.

      1. BANG.

        The notion that bitcoon is some kind of exemplary savior is laughable. It’s simply another medium of exchange with slightly different mechanisms for authentication (and counterfeiting as well). Nothing more. Dollars buy guns, too. And much more easily. The black market already provides a contrasting economic system, and again it does so much more obviously and easily.

        This is not a problem of technology just like east african famines were not a problem of agriculture. This is a problem of policy and technology doesn’t give a shit about policy. US encryption laws don’t do a damn thing to help Venezuela.

        1. bitcoon

          Racist!

  8. Instead of changing course, the government has found more and more scapegoats and “enemies” to blame for the economic crisis.

    Stupid (and immoral) is as stupid (and immoral) does.

    I long for the day that socialists realize that their ideology is antithetical to human nature and, therefor, can never work.

    1. Socialism is antithetical to the natural order, but it is quite sympatico with multiple human desires.

      Which is why it persists.

      1. It’s what The President’s Analyst was all about: approximately, “You get to actually kill people. I wish all my patients could.”

  9. “U.S. responses to the crisis in Venezuela in recent years have largely been profoundly unproductive.”

    This is better than Shikha Dalmia’s article yesterday claiming that we’re responsible for India’s internal politics, but sheesh. What are we supposed to do about Venezuela?

    It’s hard to advocate principled libertarian inaction when people think the U.S. is ultimately responsible for everything bad that happens in the world–including the weather.

    1. I’m sure you scored a rousing victory there with whoever you’re arguing with in your head. But here in the real world, Ed never said the US should be doing anything about Venezuela, nor did he claim that the US is responsible for the bad things happening there.

      Best of luck in your ongoing struggle against the invisible elves that constantly oppose your libertarian principles.

      1. Hugh has been watching MST3k on NetFlix, those damn invisible elves!

    2. That’s interesting if Dalmia claimed that, because while there are definitely strong parallels between Modi and Trump (both are farcically moronic nationalists), the sentiment in India *preceded* the one in America.

      The prevailing opinion among secular Indians who despise Modi and his Hindu nationalism is that, much as they loathe him, they have no right to be surprised at his ascent; the Congress party’s dominance has been plagued with unabashed corruption for a long time, and Modi’s election was largely a response to that. India has its own politics; Trump has little to do with any of it.

  10. I have to believe people inside the Venezuelan government by this point are aware that the socialist experiment has failed and are trying to figure out how to end it while saving their own skins.

    They can’t just admit that they were wrong, of course. They have to find ways to liberalize the economy, without losing control. Otherwise a violent revolution or military coup is on the horizon.

    I predict a military coup within 3 years.
    Sooner or later, some general’s nephew is going to get shot in a bread riot by armed regime supporters or something and that guy is going to get fed up. And the saner heads in the government will get together and decide that their necks are on the line if they don’t act.

    1. The opposition is calling for the military to intervene now.

    2. I have to believe people inside the Venezuelan government by this point are aware that the socialist experiment has failed and are trying to figure out how to end it while saving their own skins

      If history is any guide, they’re far more likely to keeping looting as hard as they can until the minute before the tanks surround the legislature, at which point they will flee the country.

      1. I’m going to have another talk with my daughter, using VZ as my example, of how the more sideways things go, the harder your government will crack down.

      2. The last to flee the country will be the last because they waited until the next-to-last fled, so they could pick up any loot the next-to-last dropped. There’ll be someone waiting even for that one, but they & all those behind will get necklaced.

    3. As a dictatorship becomes more oppressive and unpopular, its position becomes more perilous. The people in all the positions of power depend on the dictator for their positions, but they’re the ones the dictator depends on to stay in power, too.

      What’s the dictator going to do, announce to all the people he needs to stay in power that their jobs at the oil industry need to go so they can be free market again? We did that with the Iraqi military via de-Baathification.

      That gave tremendous impetus to the insurgency. The Venezuelan regime would be lucky to face an insurgency. They’d probably just face assassination. Chavez had the same problem with crime. When you depend on the police for power, you can’t go after them for being corrupt.

    4. I have to believe people inside the Venezuelan government by this point are aware that the socialist experiment has failed and are trying to figure out how to end it while saving their own skins.

      They can’t just admit that they were wrong, of course.

      You have better faith in them than I do. I don’t think they ever believed a bit of it. They thought, “How many can we loot, torture, & slaughter, for how long, while we tell them a fairy tale to cover for it?”

  11. As long as Oliver Wendell Holmes is in charge of the Supreme Court, NPR will be fine with it.

  12. State-controlled Telesur TV called the characterization of the court’s decision as a coup “fake news,”

    I see they can troll just like our leftists.

    1. Yeah, but unlike our leftists, they’re actually hurting peop…

      Never mind.

  13. I think this is a good thing in the long run. Whenever the unwinding of this mess begins, things are going to get even worse first before they get better. Far better to wait and start the process with enough of the economy in ruins that the sudden benefits of economic liberalization will match or exceed the devastation of scrapping the national currency and replacing it, hopefully dollarization.

  14. Doesn’t the photo look like it’s of a performance dance?

  15. Menendez…should be keenly aware of how his words and actions could be weaponized by the ruling party in Venezuela and used against the opposition.

    So fucking what? You saying anyone who might be in a position of influence should use reverse psychology? Praise the regime, so they’ll do the opposite?

    You’re condemning that regime. You want your readers to condemn the regime. You want Venezuelans to condemn the regime. Apparently the only people who should not condemn that regime are politicians. Or maybe it’s only politicians in the US.

  16. Why are we not getting a daily Venezuelan body count???

  17. In what way is this coup “self inflicted”? The coup was in place when Chavez (may he burn in hell) packed the courts with his lackeys more than a decade ago.

  18. Unhinged dictators don’t leave without bloodshed.

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  21. Venezuela is gradually turning into the Soviet Union.

  22. “The Imperial Senate will no longer be of any concern to us. I have just received word that the Emperor has dissolved the council permanently. The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away forever. ” – Nicol?s Maduro

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