Venezuela’s Opposition Calls Supreme Court Decision a “Coup”
Jan 10th 2013, by Chris Carlson
Henrique Capriles at a press conference following Wednesday's Supreme
Court decision (Photo: Juan Carlos Neira)
Punto Fijo, January 10th, 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s
opposition leaders and media reacted angrily to the Venezuelan Supreme
Court’s decision to delay President Hugo Chavez’s inauguration,
calling it a “coup” and claiming the Chavez government has illegally
Opposition leaders had called on the Supreme Court to make a decision
regarding the legality of postponing the inauguration, yet were
angered when the official decision announced on Wednesday confirmed
that Chavez’s inauguration was not necessary for the Chavez government
to continue in power.
Various media outlets referred to a “coup d’état”, while opposition
leaders claimed the decision was “prefabricated” and “a huge lie”. One
editorial from the opposition daily El Universal called it “the worst
crisis in the history of the republic.”
“This decision allows our country to be governed by people who have
not been elected,” said opposition spokesperson Vestalia Sampedro.
Former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles held a press
conference following the Supreme Court decision to detail what would
be the opposition’s official response.
“This doesn’t clear up the uncertainty. This is a government full of
liars,” said a visibly angry Capriles.
“Venezuela’s Supreme Court has decided to resolve this problem for the
government,” he said, insisting that the court was simply “responding
to the interests of a political party”.
Although earlier Capriles had said that Chavez’s swearing-in could be
postponed, in recent days he changed position, now claiming that the
president of the National Assembly should take power.
“None of these people were elected in October’s elections,” he said,
referring to the officials that make up the Chavez government. “Here
the people voted for only one person, and we wonder what the people of
Venezuela think about these people who make up the government,” he
But despite earlier threats to create “anarchy” by calling for a
“general strike” and calling on their supporters to take the streets,
Capriles declined to mobilize the opposition supporters to protest the
decision, saying it would be “irresponsible” and would only create
An internal email from Capriles’ political party Primero Justicia
published on the opposition blog Caracas Chronicles yesterday revealed
the thinking behind the opposition strategy.
The email said the constitutional debate is “complex”, allowing for
“different interpretations”, and admitted that “most people don’t care
about it even though we do.”
“It is difficult to convince people that those who held power before
October—and also won the election—are now governing thanks to a coup,”
said the email. “We can’t be seen as trying to gain via a technicality
what we have yet to achieve via the vote.”
A fierce media campaign in recent weeks has promoted the opposition’s
interpretation of the constitution, and has claimed that the
government is engaged in a “power grab” by continuing in power for the
2013-2019 constitutional period for which Chavez was elected last
The campaign provoked a response from the government, who announced on
Wednesday night that the National Commission of Telecommunications
(Conatel) was opening an investigation of private television channel
Globovision for violating Article 31 of the Media Responsibility Law.
The director of Conatel explained that the law establishes that
“television and radio media cannot transmit elements that seek to
create agitation among the population, alter the public order, attack
the stability of the democratic system and the legitimate authorities,
or seek to generate hate or intolerance for religious or political
The opposition channel Globovision has run constant political ads in
recent days claiming that the government was violating the
constitution by continuing in power past the January 10th inauguration
Several Latin American governments have expressed solidarity with the
Chavez government, and supported the official decision to delay the
inauguration of President Chavez.
A foreign policy advisor to President Dilma Roussef said on Tuesday
that there was “no discontinuity” if President Chavez were not
formally sworn-in on January 10th.
“It’s not as if a new president were elected, and therefore the term
is continued. It is the same president that is succeeding himself,”
said Brazilian advisor Marco Aurélio Garcia.
Uruguayan president José Mujica arrived in Caracas Wednesday night in
solidarity with the Chavez government and called on Venezuelans to
respect the state’s institutions.
“I am absolutely sure that Venezuelan institutions will function, and
will make the decisions that they have to make,” he said.
Several other Latin American presidents also arrived in Venezuela
early Thursday morning to attend a rally in support of Chavez, and to
show solidarity with the Venezuelan government.
Source URL (retrieved on 10/01/2013 - 12:25pm):