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Venezuela must respect democracy

18 February 2016


The installation of the new National Assembly in Venezuela in early 2016 was defined by various political actors and the international public opinion as a moment of democratic reaffirmation in this Latin American country. In recent years, countries in this region of the world, as well as in other continents, have expressed their anxiety and concern about the worsening social and economic situation and social cohesion in Venezuela. The deterioration of institutional life, increased violence, persistence of conduct contrary to the values shared by the community of democratic nations, together with the existence of political prisoners, have contributed to deepening this sense of alarm among democrats of different political persuasions in many regions of the world.

However, the elections to the National Assembly last December, beyond their results, confirmed the high degree of mobilisation of society, the strong civic spirit that still exists among Venezuelan people, the faith in democracy as the only path shared by the great majority of citizens of this country, and their confidence in the mechanisms and institutions of the country to resolve the situation, achieve a consensus and find ways to move forward and build a future for all Venezuelans.

Therefore, since the beginning of this year, we and many others have been following with interest developments in the political life of Venezuela, where the Executive must now share and interact, within the democratic framework as we all understand it and as required by the Venezuelan constitution, with another branch of the State, the Legislature, a clear majority of which is overwhelmingly in favour of dialogue and a mutual respect for diversity, and willing to build an inclusive way forward for all citizens.

However, a new and serious anomaly has arisen in the framework of Venezuelan democracy, despite the recent developments that led to the installation of this new National Assembly. It has distanced Venezuela from the democratic and institutional order required by its constitution and from the clear and legitimate mandate granted by the people at the elections last December.

The Supreme Court, whose members were replaced in the last few days of the previous legislature, after the new composition of the National Assembly became known, is now overriding the latter's sovereign will and ignoring its decisions, becoming a kind of second chamber not provided for in the constitution, as demonstrated in recent days when it approved the economic emergency decree and the special powers which President Maduro granted himself, although this had previously been expressly rejected by the Assembly.

The Socialist International today raises its voice in defence of democracy in Venezuela, calling for the desire for change expressed at the polls by the citizens of this country, the separation of powers and the National Assembly to be respected and, on a day like today, which is the second anniversary of Leopoldo López’s political imprisonment, while Manuel Rosales and Antonio Ledezma, as well as other citizens, continue to be deprived of their freedom for political reasons, we welcome the approval of the Amnesty and Reconciliation Law by the National Assembly on its first reading.






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