Saturday, April 1, 2017

Venezuela: Thousands march in Caracas despite U-turn on congress annulment.



Thousands of Venezuelans marched through Caracas on April 01, despite the country's pro-government Supreme Court's U-turn on its controversial annulment of the opposition-led Congress amid international condemnation and protests against socialist President Nicolas Maduro. Unprecedented pressure from other Latin American nations and dissent within its own ranks appear to have been the catalyst for the court's reversal of its own Wednesday ruling.

"This controversy is over," Maduro said just after midnight to a specially convened state security committee that ordered the top court to reconsider. The tribunal duly erased the two controversial judgments and its president, Maikel Moreno, met with both foreign envoys and journalists to explain the decision, insisting there had never been any intention to strip the National Assembly of its powers. While Maduro, 54, sought to cast developments as the achievement of a statesman resolving a power conflict beneath him, his foes said it was a hypocritical row-back by an unpopular government that had overplayed its hand.

Having already shot down most congressional measures since the opposition won control in 2015, the Supreme Court went further with its Wednesday decision that it was taking over the legislature's role because it was in "contempt" of the law. The Supreme Court's flip-flop may take the edge off protests but Maduro's opponents at home and abroad will seek to maintain the pressure. They are furious that authorities thwarted a push for a referendum to recall Maduro last year and postponed local elections scheduled for 2016. Now they are calling for next year's presidential election to be brought forward and the delayed local polls to be held, confident the ruling Socialist Party would lose.

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