Of course, this is not a surprise. The regime has been diligently eroding all functions of the Venezuelan National Assembly (NA). For this it has used the packing of the Venezuelan High Court (TSJ) in December 2015, just in the days between the election of a 2/3 dominated opposition NA, and its swearing in of January 2016. Since then a bevy of decisions without a single dissenting vote have been pronounced that ended up this Wednesday when a final decision declared that the TSJ will from now on assume all the duties of the NA while they refuse to obey the TSJ dictates. This thus adds a new shade of meaning to "Damned if you do and dammed if you don´t".
For good measure last Tuesday the TSJ voided the parliamentary immunity of the NA, allowing the the regime to send representatives to military courts under accusation of high treason for supporting the OAS latest moves.
So that is that. What is next?
First, let's observe the timing.
The official annulment of the NA was coming, even if this one is still allowed to have sessions. This is in the logic of the totalitarian system of all eras. It used to come earlier in the regimes such as dissolving the elected Douma before it could even be sworn in, or burning down some Reichstag. Here it took Maduro a year and a quarter. But the regime did it even though it could have muddled for a while longer. Unfortunately for the regime this one lost its first vote at the OAS, organization of American States, as copious insults from Venezuela's foreign minister Monday and its representative to the OAS on Tuesday failed to browbeat 20 members who voted to start dealing with the Venezuelan crisis; hence the triggering.
Since some form of sanctions are inevitable, and since more and more countries are going to not only criticize more openly the regime, but are also going to limit their relations to the evolving narco-dictatorship, the regime must do something. And as it is usually the case in such situations, instead of trying to make a deal and moderate, albeit temporarily, its abuses, the regime dives in. What is more than likely to happen in the next weeks, if not days, is that Venezuela will leave the OAS. And to escape its obligations to the OAS that last for a while after the official departure (see Brexit in case you do not understand what I mean), the TSJ is serving the regime a "legal" argument. Considering that the OAS is conspiring through the opposition AN to overthrow Maduro then this is one is REQUIRED by the TSJ to take necessary actions. In other words, as far as Venezuelan "law" is concerned, Maduro can send packing the OAS whenever he pleases.
After all Cuba directs Venezuela foreign policy. Cuba has been out of the OAS since 1962. Its people starvation are in part due to that event, but Fidel died in his bed. So what is your point?
On all practical purposes this means that now we are in a naked dictatorship, where no elections will be ever held, where no foreign eye will be allowed to come and check out the situation, where yours truly can end up in a military jail just for blogging that he supports the OAS timid actions and wants more of them _ASAP_
I am not exaggerating.
The dictatorship has already existed for a quite a while and thus on day to day basis nothing much has changed. Only the added provision that supporting the OAS can land you in a military court which is way more convenient to suppress political ennemies than civilian courts even in the hands of the regime. We just get now the nice formal touch in this paragraph taken out of today's TSJ decision
4.4.- Se advierte que mientras persista la situación de desacato y de invalidez de las actuaciones de la Asamblea Nacional, esta Sala Constitucional garantizará que las competencias parlamentarias sean ejercidas directamente por esta Sala o por el órgano que ella disponga, para velar por el Estado de Derecho.
We warn that as the situation of refusal to accept TSJ decisions and thus the invalidity of NA decisions, this Constitutional Hall [of TSJ] will guarantee that the parliamentary duties will be undertaken by this Hall or whichever institution that it calls upon, in order to maintain the legal state.
Or translated, "by violating the constitution we preserve it".
The regime really has no choice. Now that its Vice President is on the US narco list, that inflation is running at more than 300% annually, and rising, and that there is no more bread, it needs to crack down.
It is that simple.
1) It is not useless to recall the gentle reader that if the TSJ has put the NA as a non compliant and thus invalid institution it is strictly of the TSJ making, on purpose. The conflict comes from challenge to the election of 4 representatives of Amazonas state. Amazingly, 16 months after the initial interdict of the TSJ the final decision HAS NOT BEEN TAKEN. That is, the TSJ has not ruled on the validity of these elections. In any normal democracy such a decision is taken within a few months and elections run again if necessary. All of this in, say, 6 months at most. But the TSJ drags along that decision because it is the perfect alibi to invalidate the NA decisions since there is a conflict of power between the NA and the TSJ over that question.
2) If you want to read the devastating report on Venezuela by its General Secretary Almagro, you can find it inside this link. It is in English, 72 pages packed of the well described vile actions of the regime.
3) We must note that the conspiracy of the OAS is to demand fair elections and the release of political prisoners. You be the judge.