On second thought: Venezuela supremes issue ‘clarifications’ after international outrage at ‘coup’

by WorldTribune Staff, April 2, 2017

In the wake of a flood of international criticism, Venezuela’s Supreme Court has reversed its decision stripping the National Assembly of all its powers.

The court published two “clarifications” including one that said that the National Assembly will maintain its legislative functions, El Universal newspaper reported on April 1.

Demonstrators at opposition rally in Caracas on March 31. /AFP

On March 29, the Supreme Court ruled that it would assume all legislative functions as it claimed the opposition-led congress was illegitimate for being in contempt of previous court rulings.

Condemnation of the decision was swift. Organization of American States Secretary General Luis Almagro said it was tantamount to a “self-inflicted coup” and called for an emergency meeting of the permanent council. Peru broke off diplomatic relations, and the United States, Mexico and Colombia condemned the move.

The backlash prompted socialist President Nicolas Maduro to ask the court to review its decision in order to “maintain constitutional stability.”

Maduro would have been granted additional powers had the March 29 ruling stood. He would have been allowed to sign joint-venture contracts without congressional approval.

At the heart of the ruling was the government’s desire to take on more international financing to overcome a crushing economic crisis. Approving additional debt is congress’ constitutional duty, and Maduro’s opposition had pledged to stand in the way. Maduro and his allies, in turn, have accused the opposition of fueling an “economic war” aimed at destabilizing the socialist administration.