Venezuela's Hugo Chávez to stand again
It came as a surprise to no one in Venezuela when President Hugo Chávez announced, from Argentina, that, if he loses the recall referendum on August 15, he will stand as a candidate in the elections scheduled to be held 30 days after his mandate is revoked, should that happen.
And it came as no surprise, in the first place, because he himself has said repeatedly that he wants to continue governing until 2021, but above all, because, it was already on the books that he intended to stand, when the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, on June 15, handed down a decision stating that the President of the Republic could take part in the 2006 elections, even though his mandate were to be revoked in August this year, but which, strangely enough, did not make it clear whether he could stand for the elections immediately following his recall.
The decision made it clear that “the popular revoking of the mandate of the President of the Republic, pursuant to Articles 72 and 233 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, gives rise to his total absence from office and, therefore, his definitive removal from same for the corresponding term.” It was in those terms that the supreme court responded to the petition for interpretation filed in 2002 by Esteban Gerbasi of Un Solo Pueblo, one of the political parties on the opposition side.
As this sentence did not fully clarify the issue, Gerbasi filed another petition on June 16, requesting that “it be decided beyond all doubt” whether or not the Head of State could stand for election immediately after being revoked.
So far there has been no response to Gerbasi’s petition. Perhaps now one will be forthcoming, since the TSJ has been notified from Argentina of the “presidential line” and there has been a “reshuffle” in the Constitutional Chamber with the result that it now has a majority of justices that support the government. So, it comes as a surprise to no one here in Venezuela that the TSJ will allow Hugo Chávez to stand for the elections that should be held 30 days following the recall referendum, in the event that he loses.
This is a monstrous fraud against the will of the majority of Venezuelans who, for almost two years, have been manifesting their wish (on four separate occasions, no less) that President Chávez be removed from office. This decision will certainly cause surprise in the international community, however, and it will serve to make them realize that justice Chávez-style never has been just.
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