Last week, those who have been watching the sociopolitical and economic collapse of Venezuela probably shouldn’t have been surprised when the nation’s supreme court all but gutted the national legislature. Since 2015, parties opposed to left wing President Nicolas Maduro, the late Hugo Chavez’s successor, have controlled the legislature. The high court, however, is packed with allies of Maduro. As citizens worry about the lack of basic supplies, like toilet paper, the left wing government is trying to keep 21st Century Socialism alive in the carcass that is Venezuela. Food shortages are common, looting for items to survive is rampant, and domestic and zoo animals are now being consumed as food sources. People are eating from the garbage, even members of the military. Elections have been stalled.
Now, the Supreme Court says it won’t gut the legislature, though the revised rulings have not been published as of Saturday. There was also some pushback from within the government over this move by the Court, specifically from the nation’s attorney general—Luisa Ortega Diaz (via NYT):
Venezuela’s Supreme Court on Saturday reversed parts of a decision to strip the national legislature of its powers, an abrupt shift that came amid mounting domestic and international criticism that the country was edging toward dictatorship.
“The decisions of the court have not divested the Parliament of its powers,” Maikel Moreno, the court’s chief judge, said in an address on Saturday afternoon. He said the Supreme Court should not be in conflict with other branches of government “because it is only an arbiter.”
The state television network VTV on Saturday published summaries of the court’s most recent rulings in which the judges said they had “suppressed” parts of an earlier decision to nullify the legislature and allow the court to write laws itself. Judge Moreno said the court had also reversed a decision to strip lawmakers of their immunity from prosecution.
But as of late Saturday, the court itself had not published its rulings on its website, leaving it unclear how far the court planned to go in restoring the legislature’s powers, which it has been chipping away at for more than a year.
Enrique Sánchez Falcón, a Venezuelan constitutional expert, said he also believed that the court would continue to consider the legislature to be in contempt of the law and questioned whether it was even legal for its earlier decision to be revised.
But the series of events had done damage to the rule of law in Venezuela, he said. “The constitutional order of Venezuela has been completely fractured,” he said.