Venezuela Supreme Court assumes Congress role

Venezuelans took to the streets to show their disapproval of OAS head Luis Almagro's push for suspension and denounced US P

Venezuelans took to the streets to show their disapproval of OAS head Luis Almagro's push for suspension and denounced US P

Venezuela's Supreme Court nullified the country's legislative body in a ruling this week, announcing it would assume all legislative functions in its place.

"We reject the Peruvian government's rude support for the violent and extremist sectors in Venezuela", Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said in a series of tweets.

That forced the president and his allies in the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) to share power for the first time since its founder, Hugo Chavez, surged to power in 1999. Even though these legislators no longer sit, the court said parliamentary leaders had not handled their case legally.

According to Venezuela's Constitution, the functions of the constitutional branch of the Supreme Court include acting "to resolve constitutional controversies arising between any of the organs of Public Power". The government of Mexico said it was "profoundly worried" about the Supreme Court's ruling.

"To legally overtake the functions of a branch of government is a coup", said Latin America specialist Christopher Sabatini of Columbia University in NY. The head of the Organization of American States called for an emergency meeting to deal with what he called a "self-inflicted coup d'etat" by Maduro against the congress.

Venezuela's oil production has continued to fall even as oil prices have remained weak, leaving the country's near $100 billion (€93 billion) of global debt teetering on the brink of default.

"It's a giant middle finger to the OAS", he told AFP. "Screw you, we're still going to do whatever we want'".

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National Assembly President Julio Borges balls up Supreme Court documents ruling that it can take over responsibilities assigned to congress, during a press conference at the National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, March 30.

Deputies of the Venezuelan coalition of opposition parties (MUD), clash with Venezuelan National Guards during a protest outside the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) in Caracas, Venezuela, March 30, 2017.

The court's sweeping expansion of its own powers came midway through a ruling on the law governing Venezuela's state-run oil industry.

The decision of the court authorizes the Executive to create joint venture oil companies, without the endorsement of the legislature, which, by law, must approve this type of operations.

The stakes are potentially enormous for the struggling state oil company, PDVSA, where debts have soared and production has plunged amid a sharp decline in global oil prices since 2014.

Critics of Maduro called the contempt charge an excuse for the president to consolidate power and muzzle the opposition, as his popularity plummets amid widespread disgust over a severe recession, hyperinflation and acute shortages of food and medicine.

This post was syndicated from Breaking News, Nigeria News and World News - The Guardian Nigeria.

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