Provisional nature takes root in Venezuelan public powers
Like the Office of the Comptroller General, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) and the National Electoral Council (CNE) will be headless soon
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's latest trip to Cuba for a fourth surgery in one and a half year has reopened the debate on whether the president's absence is temporary and Vice-President Nicolás Maduro should therefore take over.
Several jurists queried by daily newspaper El Universal maintain that Maduro, also the Minister of Foreign Affairs, is the acting Head of State. Nevertheless, the provisional character is not news in Venezuelan government agencies. It began more than one year ago following the decease of Comptroller General Clodosbaldo Russián. In the light of the failure to act by the National Assembly (AN), it seems that such a situation will stretch to other entities.
Since last June 20, when Russián died from a stroke suffered some weeks earlier, his position has been occupied by the second-in-command, Adelina González. Hitherto, the Republican Moral Council has taken no steps to fill the vacancy.
Pursuant to Article 279 of the Constitution, the offices of the Ombudswoman Gabriela Ramírez; the Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz, and the acting Comptroller Adelina González should appoint a committee entrusted with the task of reviewing the credentials of the nominees and forwarding the AN a short list of three candidates. The AN, in turn, should make the final selection.
While the Attorney General promised to take action soon, as they had decided already the method to elect the members of the reviewing committee, no further comments have been made thus far. Nor has the AN tackled the subject.
Likewise, some of the senior members of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) are slated to leave soon. On December 27, the term in office of seven magistrates will expire, thus increasing to eight the number of incumbencies held by alternate judges.
While this situation has been in the public domain for some time, the AN seems not eager to set off on the selection of new magistrates.
Next April, something still more complicated might happen. The terms in office of three out of the five directors of the National Electoral Council (CNE): Tibisay Lucena, Sandra Oblitas and Vicente Díaz, will expire. Should the legislature fail to choose their successors, the CNE could come to a standstill for lack of quorum in a year of local elections. The three of them may not be replaced by their alternates, because their terms are to lapse as well.
Translated by Conchita Delgado
As late as Tuesday, February 25, there was some visible response from Gabriela Ramírez's office. Representatives of the Office of the Ombudswoman would visit independent human rights watch groups to find what happened in connection with repression of protests. That day, they visited NGO Provea. The next day, they met with the attorneys of NGO Venezuelan Criminal Forum. They pursued specific data because -they argued- no claims of human rights violations of demonstrators had been filed with the Office of the Ombudswoman.