his fate might be decided today. Or may not.
Leopoldo Lopez, ex Chacao Mayor, ex favorite candidate for Caracas Mayor at large, did not get his deserved reward because chavismo managed to bar him from running in 2008. It did not help them much as the opposition did take Caracas after all, forcing the government to further unconstitutional measures by stripping that high elected office of budget and attributes to give them to an appointed sycophant, who of course has done nothing for the city ever since.
But beyond the dirty politics of chavismo of which we are getting only too used to, the case is a violation of human rights, according to the Commission for Human Rights of the OAS. A novel case perhaps in that it addresses political rights of individuals, but a human rights case nevertheless, no matter what the Venezuelan regime thinks of. Whatever ruling the Inter American Court for Human Rights in San Jose reaches today, it is not only going to affect Leopoldo Lopez, the most visible figure in the case, but a bevy of politicians all across the continent where different governments like to use administrative tricks to ban them from political activity (including the rather distasteful FARC agent Piedad Cordoba). (1)
It seems that Lopez is going to win his day in court, but in international court because Venezuela has been consistently refusing to accept all sorts of adverse rulings against it, notably those concerning human rights abuses by the Chavez regime. In spite of binding treaties, a prostrated and pimp-ish judicial system has declared that nothing can be above Venezuelan justice, meaning exactly that no international decision can bind the thugs that control Venezuela today with their very peculiar concept of justice.
The fact of the matter is that the regime will decide whether to allow Leopoldo Lopez to run for office at its convenience. If it is convenient to keep Leopoldo barred from running, the regime will pay the international price. If suddenly it is convenient for Chavez political strategy, suddenly Leopoldo will find himself allowed t run, preferably once the opposition candidate has been decided on February, with the hope of splitting the opposition vote.
But such maneuvers could backfire badly for the regime. First, the idea of unity is so strong that even if Voluntad Popular is not allowed to nominate Leopoldo for opposition primaries, this one will support the winner no matter what and use the treachery of the regime to its advantage. Second, the regime is weakening, Chavez is sick, and dirty tricks are perceived more and more by the chavista crowd for what they are, dirty tricks. Once upon a time Chavez could accuse anyone of anything, demand sanctions against that person, and get them. He might be still able to get sanctions against uncomfortable adversaries but he cannot tarnish them as easily as he used to do; and in the case of Leopoldo, the more he tries to damage him, the higher in the polls this one might rise.
O tempora, o mores...
Today, Thursday September 1, we learn the court has reached a verdict. But it will not be published until it is typed up and translated in all languages of the OAS (5, I think). All sorts of rumors circulate but my well informed contact on that subject has not written to me yet which can only mean that the court keeps a tight silence so far. It is interesting to note that the court took longer than expected to deliberate and acknowledged it by saying that it was a very complicate issue involving more than one country. I take it that positively in that the verdict must have been reached in order to emit a ruling that cannot be ignored by the sued countries.
Detailed information can be found here (PDF) or at the Leopoldo Lopez page Democracy on Trial.
1) The court seat is in Costa Rica, San Jose, but the deliberations of the court can take place elsewhere. This time, it is in Bogota, Colombia.