Published on 6 April 2017 by www.revolutionarycommunist.org
On 29 March the Venezuelan Supreme Court (TSJ) ruled that it had to assume Congress’s functions directly ‘to ensure the rule of law’ for an ‘interim period’. Contrary to the lies of CNN and other imperialist propaganda organs, this was not the ‘dissolution of Congress’. The ruling was made as a result of a serious impasse because legislation had been passed including the votes of three illegally-elected opposition MUD representatives, in contempt of the Supreme Court’s rulings. The Supreme Court decision provided an excuse for a storm of anti-socialist opinion in the Americas and caused disagreements in President Maduro’s Great Patriotic Pole alliance. On 31 March the President asked that the ruling be reconsidered, and it was subsequently withdrawn.
In the December 2015 elections, the majority opposition MUD (Democratic Unity Roundtable) claimed to have won 112 of the 167 seats. However, the election of four of the MPs from Amazonas state were immediately suspended by the Supreme Court following representations by the National Electoral Council (CNE), because of accusations of voter fraud and election irregularities. Two of the four were MUD opposition deputies, one was their ally, and one was from the President’s alliance, the Great Patriotic Pole. This left the balance 109 to 55, or 66% and not the super-majority which would have allowed MUD to attempt a massive reversal of all the gains made by the people over the last 18 years.
As soon as the new Congress opened in January 2016, the three suspended MUD representatives were illegally sworn in. Found to be in contempt of court, the MUD majority backed down, but reinstated the three again in July 2016. The Presidential coalition, in contrast, accepted the suspension of its representative. In August 2016, the Court declared that the National Assembly Presiding Council and the opposition deputies were in contempt of court for having broken two of its rulings. Since its election the extraordinarily vitriolic and reactionary main opposition party, has spent all of its energies and the time of Congress trying to expel the President. The presidential elections are not until 2018 and President Maduro's term ends in April 2019.
The situation could be resolved immediately if MUD removed their three suspended members of Congress. The MUD refuses to do so because they are aiming to force the State President out of office. Because of the on-going impasse, in October 2016 President Maduro was forced to circumvent the National Assembly altogether by putting the national budget to a chamber of the Supreme Court rather than the legislature. This situation has hardened this month.
The precipitating factor had been the obstruction by MUD of the authorisation of joint ventures in oil, potentially with Russia and China. Such ventures are a red rag to US imperialism. The Supreme Court ruling also gave President Maduro widespread powers to authorise such oil joint ventures without Congressional approval. Stable trading and pricing arrangements with non-western corporations would assist the Venezuelan economy, where 50% of the GDP is from oil income, and oil constitutes 95% of export revenues.
A concerted long term assault