Quico says: For the last several years, Supreme Tribunal Magistrate Jesús Eduardo Cabrera has been Venezuela's leading purveyor of tortured and bizarre (but always government friendly) legal interpretations. Whether it was delaying the 2004 referendum, backing the "Las Morochas" voting trick, or weakening proportional representation, Cabrerita has been the government's go-to guy on the tribunal.
So imagine my surprise when the all-chavista National Assembly moved to get him and six other Constitutional Chamber magistrates removed from the Tribunal for, in effect, having the wrong legal opinions. The red slime machine is already in full swing: the party line is that these guys didn't just overstep their constitutional prerogatives, they did so because they're "a mafia."
The final decision on the case rests with the three-member "Moral Republican Council" which, as you'd expect, is neither Moral nor Republican nor a Council, but rather a Miraflores sock puppet. The constitutional kabuki will be followed, but the outcome is foretold.
Turns out that, when it came down to it, Cabrera's long and storied history of licking the government's boots was not enough to stave off his political lynching. So it goes with the revolution: one presidential tantrum is all it takes to turn you from crony to outcast.
What's behind all of this? I have no idea. (Feel free to email me your pet theory.) I can tell you one thing, though: Cabrera and co. did something Chávez didn't like. The Assembly doesn't freelance moves like this; they would not go after these guys without approval from upstairs. The message this sends out is clear enough...the constitution won't protect you, your job title won't protect you, your past loyalty won't protect you, only complete, unquestioning, and constant loyalty will protect you.