Venezuelan Supreme Court Upholds Machado’s Removal from Office

Yesterday evening, the Supreme Court of Venezuela ruled to uphold the removal of former deputy of the National Assembly (AN), Maria Corina Machado. Assembly president Diosdado Cabello had called for her dismissal last week.

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Venezuelan opposition leader Maria Corina Machado reacts after inhaling tear gas during a march meant to reinstate her as deputy of the National Assembly, after the Supreme Court ruled against her. Caracas April 1, 2014. (REUTERS/Jorge Silva)
Venezuelan opposition leader Maria Corina Machado reacts after inhaling tear gas during a march meant to reinstate her as deputy of the National Assembly, after the Supreme Court ruled against her. Caracas April 1, 2014. (REUTERS/Jorge Silva)
By Z.C. Dutka
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Santa Elena de Uairén April 1st, 2014 (venezuelanalysis.com)-- Yesterday evening, the Supreme Court of Venezuela ruled to uphold the removal of former deputy of the National Assembly (AN), Maria Corina Machado. Assembly president Diosdado Cabello called for her dismissal last week, though the power to pass such verdict ultimately belonged to the Supreme Court. The final decision was based on Machado’s violation of articles 191 and 197 of the constitution as they apply to Assembly members. The articles indicate that no member may accept employment from any foreign government without previous approval from parliament.

Though Machado claimed it was temporary appointment, she accepted a seat as an alternate Ambassador of Panama in a meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, on March 21st.

Upon learning the verdict yesterday evening, Machado summoned her supporters to rally for “Popular Sovereignty” at 12 PM today in Brión Plaza, in downtown Caracas.

Machado has asserted that her expulsion has no parallel in Venezuelan history and further proves that the country is under dictatorship.

Late last night she tweeted, “Tomorrow I will attend the National Assembly and exercise my right, even with the risks involved. I am deputy of the Assembly and I will be as long as the people want me to. I was elected by the people of Venezuela.”

Machado was elected into office in 2010 through the same electoral system that elected president Nicolas Maduro in April of 2013. She denounced the latter victory as having been achieved by fraudulent and undemocratic means.

In preparation for today’s demonstration, Machado warned protestors of the likelihood of mass arrest. “Any Venezuelan who raises their voice for their rights and defends the Constitution without fear… may be the object of an arbitrary detention… now that there is no separation of powers, there is no Lawful State, nor respect for due process in our country.”

Incidentally, Machado has been under criminal investigation for alleged incitement of violent protest that has resulted in an estimated $10 billion dollars in damage nationwide.

A pro-government Assembly member, Elvis Amoroso, today communicated that he’d been presented with a document signed by over 2,000 citizens from different social groups accusing Machado of encouraging unconstitutional activity to remove democratically elected president Maduro from office and calling for her arrest. Hundreds of government supporters marched today in front of the district attorney’s office in Guarico state, and others congregated around Parliament in the city center.

A woman holding a copy of the constitution in her hand told a state television reporter, “The very same constitution she tried to dissolve in 2002 gave her the power to be deputy of the national assembly. Now she’s against us again, seeking conflict in our country along with the United States. We are a country of peace, and they cannot win with violence, because we are armed with the constitution…laid down by commander Hugo Chavez.”

In 2002 Machado was linked to a coup attempt that  briefly removed late president Hugo Chavez from office and subsequently dissolved the National Assembly, Supreme Court, and forced the suspension of many governors and mayors.

The oppositional mayor of the Caracas metropolitan area, Antonio Ledezma, tweeted this morning his solidarity with Machado’s cause, “Street action and more street action! All of Caracas will march today in support and defense of democracy. [María Corina] is not alone, she has Venezuela by her side.”

Around 1 PM today, accompanied by Ledezma and flanked by hundreds of supporters, Machado began to march towards the National Assembly in Caracas. National Guard soldiers blocked their route, however, which prevented them from walking through the city center. Many demonstrators, and Machado herself, tried to get past the guard but were refused passage, eventually being pushed back with tear gas. Ramon Muchacho, the mayor of the municipality quickly dispatched medics to the area, and some minor wounds were treated.

Machado left the scene and was taken, on motorcycle, by an alternate route to the front of parliament. A caravan of supporting deputies accompanied her, also on motorcycles. Some reports estimate 22 deputies arrived before the official building at her side.

Machado later announced her plan to confront the Supreme Court directly, and asked her supporters to join her again this Friday in front of the Palace of Justice. “If they attempt to silence me, we’ll only get stronger.”

Some hours later, unknown persons set fire to the Ministry of Housing for the second time since February. The Ministry, in charge of constructing housing for low-income families, is located in the wealthy Caracas district of Chacao. 

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