The title of the new report issued by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) is “No room for debate.” It’s intended the formally recognize the way in which Venezuela has stopped being a functional democracy in the last few years. The opposition to socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro became clear in 2015 when the opposition party took over the National Assembly, the country’s equivalent of the U.S. Congress. But Maduro was quick to strip the body of its power with the help of a Supreme Court which he packed with loyalists.
“The focus of this report is on the usurpation of the authority of the legislative by the government in Venezuela. This comes after the judiciary was taken over,” he told a news briefing.
“It seems quite clear that in response to the loss of direct support in the legislative assembly, the government decided to completely trample on the principle of the rule of law really and separation of powers,” he said.
Back in 2017, Maduro announced plans to rewrite the country’s constitution, something that his predecessor Hugo Chavez had also done. In order to create this new constitution, he planned to create a Constituent Assembly to help decide its outlines. The Constituent Assembly was effectively a replacement for the National Assembly but one that was designed to be loyal to Maduro. The ICJ report notes that since the creation of the assembly they have achieved precisely nothing:
Rafael Chavero Gazdik, a professor of constitutional law at Universidad Central de Venezuela, said that the new body had not produced any work on a new draft charter.
“Basically it is a body that is helping the President to do whatever he wants without the rule of law,” he said.
“After two years we have not seen in Venezuela a single draft of any article for a new Constitution – not a single one.”
It’s worth noting that the opposition knew this was a naked power grab back when it happened and refused to participate in the process. That just made it easier for Maduro to stack the deck.
But don’t expect this new report to have much impact on the socialist dead-enders in Venezuela. According to the pro-regime Venezuela Analysis site, a group of 100 socialists just held a conference on a “Chavista Overcoming of the Crisis.” The conclusion these geniuses have reached is that they need more socialism:
“Chavista Radicalisation. We contend that radicalisation means returning to Chávez by fighting for his radical legacy in the face of the way the leadership makes use of his name. Returning to Chávez is also rescuing to a way of doing politics from the grassroots and from the territory. This process should go hand in hand with solving the problems of the population and building common horizons.”
When millions of people are already starving, clearly something has to change but these die-hards are never going to identify the real problem. Their current plan is to re-found Chavismo. What does that actually mean? It’s not really clear. You can listen to videos of the participants in this conference and nothing they are saying really seems to get to the level of the problem, i.e. no food and no medicine. A commitment to socialism allows for the critique of everything under the sun except for the one thing that actually needs to be reassessed the most: socialism. The project has failed spectacularly but the theorists are still arguing there’s some flavor of real socialism that hasn’t been tried yet.