March 11, 2004

Update: Electoral Chamber magistrates refuse to disqualify themselves

The "Tribunal de Substanciacion" has rejected requests to have the Electoral Chamber magistrates disqualify themselves from the Recall Referendum case.

What are the implications? It's not yet clear.

From a some readers who are way better informed than me:

The Electoral Chamber is made out of 3 magistrates: Martini Urdaneta, Rafael Hernandez and Luis Martinez.

Luis Martinez was (Chavista hardline assembly member) Ismael Garcia's private attorney when he was mayor of La Victoria, Aragua State. The other two I've heard are somewhat befriended to a certain Mr. Miquilena (the one-time Chavez number 2 man who turned against him in December 2001 and now supports the opposition.)

The Comando Ayacucho (the group charged by Chavez to collect signatures to recall opposition congressmen) and the CNE tried to recuse Martini and Hernandez for various reasons but mainly beacuse they suspect them of being close to the opposition. Primero Justicia, or the CD tried to reccuse Mr. Martinez for his relation to Mr. García.

It's all related to the Oppostion's request for a Constitutional injunction from the Supreme Tribunal which would make all signatures valid again and trigger a referendum. My guess is it might get through this instance but not through the Chavista majority in the more senior Constitutional Chamber. There, the 3 pro-Chavez magistrates - Rincon Urdaneta, Delgado Ocando and Cabrera - will be approached by the Government and will say it's unconstitutional and ONLY the CNE has a say on the referendum, which would put the ball back in Carrasquero's court.
Jose R. Mora | Email | 03.11.04 - 11:21 am | #

Martini had links with Copei in the past, though I'm not sure how strong.

Anyway, so typical of the government to try and disqualify Hernandez for his links with Miquilena, when that was the reason they put him there in the first place!

Any chance the case will go to the whole court? I heard this could happen when there was a conflict between the courts.

Another thing I don't understand: if the Electoral court is not there to supervise the CNE on its decisions, then what is its purpose??
Juan | Email | 03.11.04 - 12:54 pm | #


Somewhat absurdly, the Sala Constitucional actually outranks the Sala Plena (the full court) on these matters, as I understand it. And there, it's 3-2 for the gov't. But if the Sala Constitucional overrules the Sala Electoral, there will be another huge crisis, and probably be even more violence. Can you imagine?
F. Toro