On April 26, the disputed national assembly elected in 2020 (hereinafter AN), after a process that violated the legal deadlines, appointed the “new” magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ), their alternates, to the Inspector of Courts and to the Director of the National School of the Judiciary. The TSJ has nothing new: of the 20 magistrates in total that make up the TSJ, 12 repeats from the previous period (60%).
Most repeaters are found in the Constitutional, Criminal, Political-Administrative and Electoral chambers. Of those 12 repeating magistrates, who infringe the limit of a 12-year period according to article 264 of the Constitution, five were part of those express appointments of 2015, denounced as violating the law, because they prevented that procedure from being executed by the opposition AN that has served since 2016. Moreover, the AN’s decision will allow at least one magistrate (Malaquías Gil) to spend 24 years on the TSJ, while one magistrate (Gladys Gutiérrez) will spend more than 20.
The NGO Acceso a la Justicia declared that “the “new” TSJ, like its predecessor, is clearly identified with the government of Nicolás Maduro.” As said organization states, there are only 2 magistrates who have not held positions in the current or previous administration of Hugo Chávez nor have they been active in the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), although one of them maintains a close relationship with the government.
The preservation of this old power structure in the TSJ means prolonging the lack of justice and the suffering of human rights victims throughout the country at the cost of the impunity of the perpetrators and the reproduction of the crisis. One cannot speak of re-democratization and “improvements” in the human rights situation in the country without an autonomous, impartial, and effective Judiciary, which has been consistently denounced by all international human rights mechanisms, such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the United Nations Special Procedures and Treaty Bodies, and the International Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela.
AlertaVenezuela insists that the vaunted narrative of “cooperation” with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and recently with the Office of the International Criminal Court have not led to changes in the Venezuelan crisis. On the contrary, it has been in the context of these international mechanisms on site that the State has advanced in securing political power. Not only does the “new” TSJ demonstrates this, but also the constant closure of the civic space that keeps defenders like Javier Tarazona in prison and that is now dusting off an international cooperation bill that wants to cut the head of civil society organizations and with them, of all the victims of the complex humanitarian emergency.
The extension of the political and economic power of the government, alongside the progressive closure of civic space and the spread of the humanitarian crisis in the most neglected regions and populations, is occurring within the framework of “cooperation” with international human rights organizations. Although tinged with apparent complexity, the answer is simple. In fact, there is no cooperation, but rather an attempt by the State to use these international mechanisms as an institutional facade for a supposed normalization of the human rights situation to reduce international pressure. It is in this political-communicational narrative that tries to promote the “glass half full” perspective where it is most necessary to deepen the denunciation and proactive monitoring over the national crisis.
The structural problems of the country cannot continue to be made invisible with fanciful stories that benefit a few. Venezuela is getting worse by leaps and bounds as the National Executive continues to break the few existing resistances to democracy and human rights. Not surprisingly, a formal investigation by the International Criminal Court is underway.