By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS -- Attorney General Luisa Ortega said Wednesday she was disavowing and not recognizing two decisions emanating from the Supreme Court, saying they go against what is mandated in the Venezuelan Constitution, and asked Venezuelans to do the same, deepening the conflict inside the troubled government of Nicolas Maduro.
This is Venezuela, after almost three months of continuous anti-Maduro protests that have cost 77 deaths, according to Ortega’s office, although some observes, including NGOs and media outlets, put the tragic tally at 94. And again, on Wednesday, in spite of the heavy rains, people took to the streets to block them as part of the third “Gran Trancazo”, the big shut down.
“I will defend democracy and the Constitution with my life even, I swear”, Ortega said during a press conference at the AG’s headquarters’ auditorium in downtown Caracas. “I told you, I was not going to let them (the Supreme Court) derogate the Constitution”. Ortega invoked Article 333 of the Magna Carta, which states that the Constitution will not lose legal power if overlooked by act of force or derogated by any means not covered in it. Article 333 also requires of all citizens, authorities or laymen, to collaborate actively in restituting it if violated.
The Supreme Court is maneuvering to allow Maduro to ditch the present Constitution and write a new one through a Constituent Assembly, a plan that counts with the opposition of Ortega and, according to the latest polls, the vast majority of Venezuelans.
Tuesday, the court tried to limit Ortega’s powers by handing some competences of the AG’s Office to the more Maduro-friendly Ombudsman, specifically when it comes to criminal investigations. “Somebody wants their investigations made to measure”, Ortega said Wednesday in rejecting the move. Ortega also said that the Supreme Court cannot fire the present deputy AG and appoint a new (presumably pro-Maduro) one, a role which goes to the National Assembly, as it also tried to do Tuesday.GAME OF WORDS
Ortega’s dramatic statement come less than one day after Maduro issued some reverberating sound bites himself, in a war of words that is quickly reaching “Game of Thrones” heights. The President said Tuesday afternoon that he would “achieve with weapons what can’t be done with votes”, vowing to remain in power by all means necessary, even if he loses an electoral contest.
Ortega was a staunch supporter of the President only weeks ago. But something turned and there seems to be no going back: in late March she denounced a Supreme Court decision as being a breach in Constitutional order and things have only gotten worse from there.
Also coming out against Maduro Wednesday? Caricuao, a large Western Caracas section that, just like Ortega, was recently for the President but has apparently turned.MOST ANTI-MADURO ‘HOOD
Quiet neighborhoods, pro-Maduro until recently some of them, have been turning since 2014 into mini-Massadas.
Caricuao protested hard, Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, in spite of National Guard attacking barricades and even residential buildings with light tanks and tear gas. The neighborhood has some stiff competition for the mantle of “Most anti-Maduro” from Eastern Caracas’ very own Petare (anti-government sentiment there is so high, three National Guard were shot Monday trying to quell a protest), El Paraiso (two guards shot days ago), El Valle and Los Ruices.