Maduro Sues Parliament for Usurping Foreign Policy as Zapatero Meets with Lopez

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro filed a constitutional complaint with the country’s Supreme Court Friday, accusing the opposition-controlled parliament of “usurping” his powers to conduct foreign policy.

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President Maduro with copy of Venezuelan constitution. (Reuters)
President Maduro with copy of Venezuelan constitution. (Reuters)

Caracas, June 6, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro filed a constitutional complaint with the country’s Supreme Court Friday, accusing the opposition-controlled parliament of “usurping” his powers to conduct foreign policy.

The legal action follows months of lobbying by opposition lawmakers affiliated with the right-wing coalition, the MUD, for the suspension of Venezuela from the Organization of American States (OAS) under the body’s democratic charter.

“It is unacceptable that organizations like the OAS, the UN, and the European Union receive these men [the opposition] when they know that they are usurping a constitutional precept that international relations are the exclusive domain of the president of the Republic,” declared Elvis Amoroso, chief legal counsel for the executive branch.

In April, a delegation of opposition legislators traveled to Washington where they met with OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro as well as with US senators Bob Menendez and Marco Rubio, the authors of a recent law extending sanctions against top Venezuelan officials– including current cabinet members– until 2019. 

Last week, Almagro convened a meeting of regional representatives to debate the expulsion of Venezuela following a formal request filed by the country’s National Assembly citing an alleged breakdown of the constitutional order.

However, the motion to apply the democratic charter was shelved after a group of member-states accused the secretary general of procedural irregularities and bias against Venezuela.

The MUD parliamentary leadership has, for its part, condemnd the legal move by the executive, pledging to continue its campaign against the Venezuelan government in international bodies.

 “We are not going to renounce our right… to appeal to whichever international forum to express our vision and opinions about the case of Venezuela,” affirmed National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup, who has vowed to denounce the “regime” of democratically elected President Nicolas Maduro before the OAS. 

Since taking office in January, the opposition-controlled congress has repeatedly promised to oust President Maduro from office within six months, unveiling a four-pronged strategy with that objective in March.

Ex-Spanish president meets with Leopoldo Lopez

Former Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero held a two and a half hour private meeting with Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who is currently serving a 13-year prison sentence for his role in leading 2014’s violent anti-government protests that resulted in the death of 43 people. 

Zapatero is in Venezuela as part of a Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) initiative to broker talks between the Maduro government and the country’s right-wing opposition together with the former leaders of Panama and Dominican Republic.

The Spanish ex-president is the first international dignitary who has been granted a meeting with Lopez in what is widely viewed as a gesture of good faith on the part of the Chavista government.

On May 30, representatives from the government and the opposition sat down in Punta Cana for an initial round of UNASUR-mediated indirect talks.

The opposition has, however, set down multiple preconditions for dialogue, which include the release of López and other so-called “political prisoners” as well as the fixing of a date for a recall referendum this year, among other demands.

In April, Venezuela’s Supreme Court blocked a contentious amnesty law passed by the opposition-majority parliament, which would have pardoned dozens of individuals convicted of a whole host of offenses over the past seventeen years, provided that the crimes were committed in the context of “demonstrations, protests, or meetings for political purposes”.

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