The Election Season Is Heating Up in Venezuela

September 25th, 2011

By Dan Miller

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) on September 16th directed the Venezuelan government to

“re-establish the political rights of Mr. Leopoldo López Mendoza,” in the decision posted on the court’s website Friday. …

Mr. López, once among the top contenders for the opposition’s presidential nomination, was barred in 2005 from seeking public office through 2014 by Venezuela’s comptroller-general for allegedly mishandling public funds and other corruption.

His supporters maintain the charges were trumped up as part of a broader plan to keep him and other opposition politicians from challenging Mr. Chávez and his allies.

Leopoldo López Mendoza

Mr. Lopez, like many others banned from public office in Venezuela, has not been tried for his alleged offenses. The Venezuelan government has said the IACHR went beyond its mandate and “violates all universal legal principles.” According to the Solicitor General,

his office would pursue some actions. He added, however, that the only power that can make a decision on the IACHR Court ruling is the Venezuelan Judiciary, through the Constitutional Court. It will determine whether the decision can be enforced or not. “If it (the Supreme Tribunal of Justice) decides (in favor of the IACHR Court), we will enforce it,” Escarrá said.

The Venezuelan courts are firmly in the pocket of el Presidente Chávez and it will be interesting to learn what they do. They are likely under substantial pressure to acquiesce in the IACHR ruling.  In the meantime, Mr. Lopez now seems to have taken center stage.  There is at least one difference between him and most other opposition presidential candidates and maybe-candidates: he has made it clear, from the beginning, that

his adversary was Hugo Chavez, not the opposition primaries. As the event would go on he would often enough remind people of his commitment to a new Venezuela, to opposition unity, to the decided challenge to Chavez (not necessarily chavistas).

That is a good idea, one that some of our own Republican hopefuls might consider emulating.

Mr. Lopez is well spoken, energetic, young and popular.

If el Thugo and his cronies don’t erect too many obstacles to his candidacy, he should do well.

(This article was first published at The PJ Tatler.)

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