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A very sad day for Venezuela's Justice

By Miguel Octavio

14.12.04 | It is indeed a very sad day for justice in Venezuela. Ending decades of democracy in selecting Supreme Court members, the Chavez controlled National Assembly elected by simple majority the new members of that Court, which guarantee the total control of its decision by the pro-Chavez majority. This was done using a perverse interpretation of the law, since Justices had always been selected by a two thirds majority.

To make the process even less democratic, the opposition only found out who the lucky few were at the session in which they were elected by the pro-Chavez majority. In fact, the Head of the selection committee, Deputy Pedro Carreño had said this weekend that not one of the new members of the new Supreme Court had even a trace of being opposition. Of course, he said little about qualifications and now the Venezuelan Supreme Court counts as its members the President of the CNE Francisco Carrasquero. A vindictive man, who corrupted the law and regulations when he presided the CNE, violating even the regulations approved by his own decisions. Or Luis Velasquez Alvaray, the National Assembly Deputy that if anything has demonstrated his ignorance of the law.

The Head of the credentials committed Pedro Carreño is himself quite a character. Three years ago he held a press conference to “show” the confidential information he had received that Fujimori’s right hand man Vladimiro Montesinos could not be in Venezuela as he had died in Peru. Montesinos was found alive in Venezuela some months later. But he saved his best performance for a later date, when he accused the CIA of spying on all Venezuelans via the Direct TV cable boxes sold in Venezuela. He will be appointed Vice-president of the National Assembly in January.

To complete the perversity, the new members of the Court are additional members who are being named to take advantage of the fact that the 2000 Constitution “forgot” to limit the number of Justices in the Court. Thus its expansion results from the use, once again, of an additional legal subterfuge to increase the number of Justices.

The remarkable thing is that the current Court was appointed by the post-Constituent Assembly “Congresillo” which was composed only by pro-Chavez members, who tried to select the people with the required qualifications and experience to be members of the Court. No such pretense was kept this time around.

Only fools can believe that this is not another step by a totalitarian-minded Government to control everything in the country. Only fools can believe that this is the result of a democratic process or that freedom for the people is the goal of those that planned this. No fair-minded person would have twisted the law and perverted the democratic process, the way it has been perverted by the pro-Chavez majority of the National Assembly in this case. This is fascism at its best; in order to impose a pseudo-legality backed by spurious decisions by the Chavez controlled Constitutional Hall of the Venezuelan Supreme Court. Venezuelans who believe in democracy no longer will have a fair chance from today on. Venezuelans who are pro-Chavez will one day regret giving him so much power. Decisions will be made strictly on Chavez’ orders and whims. Judges will be selected exclusively on the basis of their allegiance to the totalitarian wishes and misguided dreams of Hugo Chavez Frías. It is indeed a very sad day, the end of any possibility of Justice for all in Venezuela.

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