Venezuela’s opposition calls for removal of Supreme court judges, say democracy still broken

Opposition supporters holding a placard that reads, "No more dictatorship" shout slogans as they block a highway during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, Venezuela March 31, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Opposition supporters holding a placard that reads, “No more dictatorship” shout slogans as they block a highway during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas, Venezuela March 31, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Venezuela’s democracy remains broken despite a U-turn by the pro-government Supreme Court on its takeover of congress, the opposition said on Sunday, calling for the removal of judges on the top tribunal.

The tribunal’s ruling last week that it was taking over functions of the opposition-led National Assembly triggered widespread international condemnation and brought accusations that President Nicolas Maduro had become a “dictator.”

At the behest of the government, the Supreme Court eliminated the offending rulings on Saturday.

But Maduro opponents say no one should be kidded into thinking that means democracy had been restored in Venezuela.

“Despite a supposed retraction by the government after creating a ‘coup d’etat,’ and apart from the clarification by the Supreme Court, the coup persists,” lawmaker Juan Matheus said on behalf of the opposition.

“The rupture of the constitutional order continues,” he added at a news conference inside the legislative body, flanked by pro-opposition legal and constitutional experts.

Opposition lawmakers plan to begin proceedings on Tuesday to try to remove Supreme Court judges whom they accuse of acting on the whim of the ruling Socialists.

Since the opposition won a majority in congress in late 2015, the court has issued a raft of rulings backing Maduro and overturning most of the assembly’s measures, meaning it remains effectively a powerless body.

Maduro, who narrowly won election to replace his late mentor Hugo Chavez in 2013, said any constitutional controversy is over after he convened a special security committee during the weekend that instructed the Supreme Court to rectify.

Stung by the international outcry, including an unprecedented wave of statements from around Latin America, he said he is the victim of a U.S.-led smear campaign intended to lay the groundwork for a coup against him.

“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela demands the end of harassment and aggression against the country,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement overnight.

REUTERS