Chavez accuses judges of treason

In 2004 Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez tried to make sure he would be untroubled by an independent judiciary by packing the country’s High Court of Justice (TSJ) with his supporters.

At its opening session in 2006, the court hardly enhanced its reputation for impartiality when judges joined in the applause as members of the audience chanted “Uh-Ah, ¡Chavez no se va!”

(Imagine the justifiable outcry if justices of the US Supreme Court applauded while Bush partisans chanted their support for the President.)

Now a power struggle has emerged between the TSJ and Venezuela’s National Assembly– which consists entirely of Chavez supporters. And Chavez, apparently feeling betrayed by the court, is accusing it of “treason to the people, treason of the revolution.”

(Again, imagine the outrage if Bush accused Supreme Court justices who ruled against him of treason.)

Venezuelan blogger Daniel Duquenal has a translation and an analysis of Chavez’s rant against the court. He adds:

So now we know what is the problem between the National Assembly and the TSJ. It is in fact a proxy fight as the TSJ is stopping, refusing, denying something to Chavez. The “thing” is not that relevant when all is said and done. What is relevant here… is that something has dared to stand in front of him. Be it a meek or strong protest, it is simply unacceptable and it must be crushed…

Daniel calls Chavez’s behavior “openly fascist.” I’m not sure that’s the correct description, but it certainly bears no resemblance to anything recognizably democratic. And what will Chavez do to stamp out this “treason”?