Venezuela

Venezuela chief prosecutor rebukes court power grab amid reports of violence

Opposition lawmaker Jose Dionisio Brito, left, holds up a copy of Venezuela's Constitution as he argues with a supporters of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro during a protest outside of Venezuela's General Prosecutor's office in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, March 31, 2017. Venezuelans have been thrust into a new round of political turbulence after the government-stacked Supreme Court gutted congress of its last vestiges of power, drawing widespread condemnation from foreign governments and sparking protests in the capital.
Opposition lawmaker Jose Dionisio Brito, left, holds up a copy of Venezuela's Constitution as he argues with a supporters of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro during a protest outside of Venezuela's General Prosecutor's office in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, March 31, 2017. Venezuelans have been thrust into a new round of political turbulence after the government-stacked Supreme Court gutted congress of its last vestiges of power, drawing widespread condemnation from foreign governments and sparking protests in the capital. AP

Venezuela’s Supreme Court decision this week to effectively dissolve congress may have been a ruling too far — even for staunch government supporters.

On Friday, Venezuela’s chief prosecutor, Luisa Ortega, said the court ruling was an affront to the 1999 Constitution forged by the late and revered Hugo Chávez.

Read More: Venezuela court effectively shutdown congress

“These [court] rulings are a clear violation of the constitutional order,” Ortega said during the delivery of her annual report. “I am very worried about these actions.”

Such a high level rebuke in a country where the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, or PSUV, often moves in lockstep, was extraordinary. President Nicolás Maduro has yet to comment on the court ruling.

In Caracas, national guardsmen in riot gear fired buckshot and swung batons at a small group of students who gathered early outside the Supreme Court, the Associated Press reported. A few arrests took place and some journalists covering the demonstration had their cameras taken before the group reassembled elsewhere in the capital.

The Supreme Court sparked a firestorm on Wednesday when it ruled that congress was illegitimate and granted itself legislative powers. The Organization of American States and nations across the region have sounded the alarm, and Venezuela’s beleaguered opposition has called it a “coup.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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