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Published On: Wed, Aug 9th, 2017

Venezuela’s Supreme Court orders Caracas Mayor Ramon Muchacho jailed

nsnbc : Venezuela’s Supreme Court, on Tuesday, sentenced Caracas district mayor Ramon Muchacho to 15 months in jail for allegedly defying orders to keep transit moving in an area routinely barricaded by anti-government protesters during demonstrations.

Ramon Muchacho_Venezuela_Aug 2017In a statement, that Court announced that its “Constitutional Chamber” ordered the immediate arrest of Ramon Muchacho, the district mayor of Caracas’ district of Chacao. The Court also announced that the Chamber ordered the “immediate dismissal from his post as mayor” of the elected official.

Muchacho was ruled to be in contempt of court for not having obeyed an order to ensure freedom of movement in his district, the epicenter of daily protests against socialist party (PSUV) President Nicolas Maduro. Muchacho in an email message that he sends to subscribers each morning, wrote:

“We are being condemned for doing our job, for guaranteeing the legitimate right to peaceful protest and the right of all Venezuelans to exercise their civil and political rights,’  ‘The coming hours will be difficult for me.”

The “dissident” mayor didn’t attend the court hearings. His location was not immediately evident. In his message, Muchacho noted that his means of communications were “severely limited”. The Court’s ruling prohibited Muchacho, a member of the First Justice party, from leaving the country.

The order to jail Muchacho comes just days after the opening of a legislative super body called the Constituent Assembly that Maduro promises will bring peace to the country but the opposition says is aimed at consolidating a dictatorship.

Maduro and the PSUV also note that the rewriting of the constitution adopted under the late Hugo Chavez in 1999, with which the Assembly has been tasked, shall “consolidate the achievements of the Bolivarian revolution”.  One of these achievements – apparently – is the silencing and jailing of opposition.

The Supreme Court has issued injunctions against nearly a dozen mayors of opposition dominated municipalities ordering them to prevent protesters from setting up barricades and to remove them if they are put in place.

Critics say such cases are a violation of due process rights that are meant to punish adversaries of the ruling Socialist Party. They say the Supreme Court is stacked with Maduro supporters.

The Court is also hearing a similar case against the mayor of another Caracas district, David Smolansky of El Hatillo. Intelligence agents (SEBIN), last month arrested Alfredo Ramos, the mayor of the city of Barquisimeto, on accusations that he violated the same order.

CH/L – nsnbc 09.08.2017

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