The National Assembly, the only legitimate institution of the Venezuelan State, under authoritarian assault
15 May 2019
The National Assembly, the Venezuelan Parliament, whose members were elected on 6 December 2015 and assumed their functions on 6 January 2016 for a term of five years in an electoral process that included the participation of all political forces, from the government as well as from the opposition, remains today the only legitimate political institution in the country resulting from a democratic process in accordance with the Constitution. The establishment of the other Venezuelan State powers, the executive and the judiciary, ended up with their legitimacy compromised from the very beginning, due to their disregard of key dispositions in the Venezuelan Constitution as well as the basic norms of any democratic electoral process.
In the case of the presidential election at the end of Nicolás Maduro’s term in office, which should have taken place in December 2018 and announced six months in advance, it was initially brought forward to the month of April and then to the month of May of that year, and then was finally held at one and a half months’ notice. The election was convened by a constituent assembly and not by the National Electoral Council as established in the Venezuelan Constitution. This constituent assembly, which was created by a decree of Nicolás Maduro instead of, as stated in the Constitution, by consulting the Venezuelan people in a referendum, has been composed from its very beginnings exclusively by members of the ruling party who have conferred on themselves the right to adopt decisions on all types of issues, among them those that fall within the competence and remit of the legitimate National Assembly.
In the actual election of the president of the republic on 20 May 2018, the main forces of the opposition did not register any candidates, protesting against the absence of guarantees and the lack of legitimacy of the electoral process, the lack of neutrality of the body governing the elections, the National Electoral Council, the disqualification of opposition candidates and the absence of others who were at the time political prisoners and prevented from taking part. Ultimately, the candidates that took part in that election were only the outgoing president, Nicolás Maduro, and two other candidates not belonging to the majority parties represented in the National Assembly. The total electoral participation was registered as the lowest in the history of the electoral processes in the country.
With regard to the composition of the Supreme Court of Justice in the days immediately prior to the new members of the National Assembly taking office, the outgoing members proceeded to act within three days and with a disregard for the norms established in the Constitution, appointing sixteen new judges, a task which corresponded to the newly elected majority, whose job it was to work on and decide these new appointments. This led to the extremes of appointing outgoing deputies of the National Assembly belonging to the ruling party, as members of the Supreme Court of Justice. This fact has remained in the consciousness of the Venezuelan democrats and of all those who, with loyalty and respect for justice, observe and follow with consternation the decisions of this Court.
Within this context and faced with the complex reality of the political, humanitarian and economic crisis that Venezuela encounters, the persecution, imprisonment, exile or the lifting of the immunity of parliamentarians at the National Assembly, the only legitimate body of the State structure in that country, by other powers whose legitimacy is not only compromised from its beginnings but also violate once again the Constitution that clearly and transparently states that it is the National Assembly that is the body that must determine, by means of a qualified majority, if the parliamentary immunity of any of its members is to be lifted.
The Socialist International, composed of political parties in government or in opposition in most of the world’s democracies and parliaments, rejects and firmly condemns the assault on the freedom and integrity of the National Assembly of Venezuela and of its members that has been taking place these last years, months, weeks and days, and which affects this institution and today personally, 31 parliamentarians members of the Assembly.
Our International, today once again demands the freedom and the respect for the right to serve in the exercise of their functions of all the parliamentarians in prison, in exile, suffering persecution, and whose parliamentary immunity is not being respected.
Members of the National Assembly who today have their immunity lifted or removed, are in prison, persecuted or under the protection of foreign embassies in Caracas or forced into exile:
|1.||Juan Guaidó, President of the Assembly||Immunity lifted|
|2.||Edgar Zambrano,First Vice-President of the Assembly||In prison|
|4.||Américo De Grazia||Embassy of Italy|
|6.||Freddy Guevara||Embassy of Chile|
|7.||Freddy Superlano||Immunity lifted|
|10.||Henry Ramos||Immunity lifted|
|14.||Simón Calzadilla||Immunity lifted|
|15.||Juan Requesens||In prison|
|18.||Mariela Magallanes||Embassy of Italy|
|19.||Richard Blanco||Embassy of Argentina|
|20.||Sergio Vergara||Immunity lifted|
|22.||Gilber Caro||In prison|
|23.||Miguel Pizarro||Immunity lifted|
|24.||Juan Andrés Mejía||Immunity lifted|
|25.||Franco Casella||Embassy of Italy|
|26.||Carlos Paparoni||Immunity lifted|
|27.||Winston Flores||Immunity lifted|