Source: In Defence of Marxism
“There’s been a coup in Venezuela! Maduro has carried out a power-grab!” Just a few days before the 15th anniversary of the short lived coup against the democratically elected president Chavez (11-13 April, 2002), those who carried out that coup (the Venezuelan oligarchy, their masters in Washington and its lapdogs in Buenos Aires, Brasilia, Santiago de Chile and Lima, cheered on by the media wolf pack in Madrid and the US) are now shouting and screaming like hyenas against an alleged “self coup” by president Maduro.
What are the facts? The immediate cause of this hypocritical outcry is the ruling of the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) on March 29 which said that since the National Assembly is in contempt of court, the TSJ will henceforth take over its powers for itself or another power it determines. Immediately, the president of the National Assembly, Julio Borges, declared this as a “coup d’Etat” and Organisation of American States general secretary Luis Almagro described it as a “self coup” and called for the urgent convening of the OAS Permanent Council in order to activate its Democratic Charter against Venezuela. The Peruvian government decided to withdraw its ambassador from Venezuela.
What are the roots of this ruling? Since the victory of the right wing opposition in the National Assembly elections in December 2015, there has been a sharp conflict between the different powers of the state. Already at the end of December 2015, the TSJ ruled that there had been irregularities in the election of deputies in the Amazonas state and declared the election null and void and ordered it to be re-run. Proof was presented that opposition politicians had been involved in vote-buying. This affected four deputies, two from the opposition, one from the PSUV and another one elected in the indigenous list (also a supporter of the opposition). However, these three opposition deputies were key as they would have given the opposition a two thirds majority and therefore much wider powers. The National Assembly refuse to obey the order of the TSJ and swore in the three opposition deputies for Amazonas in January 2016. Again the TSJ declared the act as null and void and in contravention of its earlier ruling. The National Assembly retreated. Then, in July, the National Assembly swore in the three deputies again. In August 2016, the TSJ declared that the National Assembly Presiding Council and the opposition deputies were in contempt of court for having broken two of its rulings.
In a further escalation of the institutional conflict, in October 2016, the National Assembly voted to initiate proceedings for a “political trial” of president Maduro and also proceedings to declare that Maduro had “abandoned his office”. Amongst the reasons given for these actions was the allegation that Maduro is not a Venezuelan citizen and therefore unable to be president (!!). Finally in January 2017, the National Assembly declared that president Maduro had indeed “abandoned his office”. How can he be accused of “abandoning his office” and of “carrying out a power grabbing coup” at the same time is anybody’s guess. The National Assembly furthermore called on the Organisation of American States to invoke its Democratic Charter against Venezuela, in effect calling on foreign powers to violate Venezuelan sovereignty, something which reveals clearly the character of the Venezuelan oligarchy. The attempt to use the Democratic Charter was defeated at the OAS, despite direct threats from Washington against a number of member countries.
Finally, the government enquired from the TSJ whether it needed to send its decision to create joint venture companies in the oil sector to be ratified by the National Assembly. The TSJ replied with its ruling on March 29, that, since the National Assembly was in contempt of court and had not taken any actions to rectify that, the government did not have to send its decisions to it and that the TSJ was taking over National Assembly legislative powers to exercise them directly or through any other organ of power it would determine. That ruling had been preceded by one a day earlier in which the TSJ ruled that since the National Assembly was in contempt of court, its members could not enjoy parliamentary immunity.
If the opposition National Assembly wanted to actually use its powers, it would be easy to abide by the TSJ ruling on the three Amazonas deputies and then start legislating. However, the opposition is not really interested in that, but rather wants to create an incident as big as possible, to justify the removal of Maduro from the presidency.
We must oppose the hypocritical campaign of those who actually did carry out a coup in Venezuela in 2002, who now want to remove Maduro from power and to invoke foreign intervention against Venezuela. If they were to achieve their aims, we know clearly what would be the consequences: all of the gains of the Bolivarian revolution would be destroyed, the social missions abolished, nationalised companies and landed estates returned to their former owners, the labour law would be abolished allowing for mass layoffs in state and private enterprises, old age pensions massively cut, health care and education slashed and a regime of assault on basic democratic rights instituted. If anyone doubts this, you just need to see the initial measures taken by right wing governments as they have come to power in Argentina and Brazil. In Venezuela it would be ten times worse.