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Venezuela’s Supreme Court Takes Power From Legislature

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Amelia Belisario, a deputy of the National Assembly, argued with National Guard members during a protest in front of the Supreme Court in Caracas, Venezuela, on Thursday. Credit Juan Barreto/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela slipped further toward one-man rule under the leftist President Nicolás Maduro as the Supreme Court, controlled by the president, seized power from the National Assembly in a ruling late Wednesday night.

The move quashed what most consider to be the only remaining counterbalance to Mr. Maduro’s growing power in the country. The National Assembly is led by Mr. Maduro’s opponents.

The court’s ruling said lawmakers were “in a situation of contempt,” and said during that period, the justices themselves would be stepping in to “ensure that parliamentary powers were exercised directly by this Chamber, or by the body that the Chamber chooses.”

The ruling would appear to allow the court, which is controlled by leftists loyal to Mr. Maduro, to write laws itself, said experts who had reviewed it.

Members of the National Assembly denounced the decision as a coup.

“They have kidnapped the Constitution, they have kidnapped our rights, they have kidnapped our liberty,” said Julio Borges, the opposition lawmaker who leads the body.

Venezuela’s National Assembly has been controlled by opponents of the country’s ruling leftists since January 2016. Initially, Mr. Maduro said he would work with the body and even appeared before the Parliament to give his annual address on the state of the government that month.

However, the government soon began to use the court to marginalize the assembly. Over the year, the court invalidated law after law as unconstitutional. One ruling stripped it of its powers to review the budget.

The conflict between Mr. Maduro and his opponents has deepened because of Venezuela’s economy, which is in free fall because of low oil prices and years of economic mismanagement. The situation has led to shortages of basic foods and medicines and to international pressure for Mr. Maduro to hold elections.

Source: NYT > World

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