The supreme court of Venezuela ruled against 10 challenges presented by the opposition, led by defeated presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, to the last presidential elections. Held on April 14, following the death of President Hugo Chávez, they ended with the election of Chávez loyalist Nicolás Maduro by a very narrow margin, which prompted allegations of corruption from Capriles’ Movimiento Primero Justicia (Justice First Movement) party.
The Constitutional Court took four months to give a response, which closes the judicial avenue to finding a solution to the controversy that surrounded the elections. Court President Gladys Gutiérrez hinted that there was not enough evidence to support the opposition claims. “The irregularities of the facts were not properly explained,” she said.
The opposition saw it coming. Capriles said on Tuesday that given the delay of the Supreme Court, he would bring his case to international institutions. There is no exact date in sight, but he listed the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, the United Nations, the Latin American Parliament and the Union of South American Nations. “You have left half of Venezuelans helpless. We are not waiting for you any longer,” said Capriles to the Supreme Court, according to Venezuelan newspaper El Universal.
Capriles wanted the April elections to be annulled, since according to his party, there have been irregularities in over half of the 15 million votes cast. At the same time, the opposition coalition Mesa de Unidad Democrática (Democratic Union Table), questions over 2 million votes and wants a partial reelection.
The opposition's legal challenge was doomed to fail from the beginning, argues Spanish newspaper El País, because it is a well-known secret that most of the supreme judges side with Chávez’s Revolución Bolivariana (Bolivarian Revolution) movement, of which Maduro is now leader. Former Supreme Court president Luisa Estela Morales flaunted the "Chavista" bracelet during his funeral, and since 2007 the court has not taken a decision against the government.
Furthermore, the Supreme Court handed Capriles a fine on Wednesday for insulting the Court and other official institutions. Capriles must pay 10,700 bolivars ($1,700), and the Attorney General will start an investigation.
Capriles replied by tweeting “What is unacceptable is the lack of justice.” He later added, “We are being fined for saying and defending the truth!”
MUD announced its intention to bring the issue to the international courts, though history suggests that, even if the international institutions ruled in its favor, Maduro’s government would not do anything to right the alleged wrong.
In the past, Chávez ignored up to nine decisions of the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, and even took Venezuela out of the court, which will be effective on September 10. After that date, the court will not be able to process any case against Venezuela.