Venezuela’s Supreme Court Allows Army to Attend Political Rallies

Constitutional Chamber Finds No Problem with Military Chanting "Chávez Lives!"

EspañolOn Tuesday, Venezuela’s Supreme Court (TSJ) granted the army permission to participate in political marches and rallies, and denied that it would encourage proselytizing of the military.

TSJ’s Constitutional Chamber ruled to dismiss an appeal by army officers of the Institutional Military Front (FIM) filed last March against the Minister of Defense, Admiral Carmen Melendez. The admiral had ordered members of the National Army Forces (FAN) to attend a political rally on March 15 organized by the national government and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) to support the National Guard (GN) against the student protests.

The ruling glosses over Articles 328 and 330 of Venezuela’s 1999 Constitution, which states that the military is “essentially professional, with no political ties.” The articles also stipulate that the army “is under the exclusive service of the nation and cannot, in any case, respond to specific individuals or a political group.” It further explicitly prohibits its members from “engaging in propaganda, proselytism, or political activism.”

The Venezuelan Army may participate in political rallies

The Venezuelan Army may participate in political rallies. (AVN)

“The participation of members of the FAN in political acts does not impair their professionalism, but is rather a mainstay of active and leading democratic participation,” opined judges Gladys Gutiérrez, Francisco Carrasquero, Marco Tulio Dugarte, Carmen Zuleta de Merchan, Arcadio Delgado Rosales, Luisa Estella Morales, and Juan José Mendoza.

The Venezuelan high court said officers, based on military status alone, cannot be excluded from exercising their rights under Article 62 of the Constitution to “participate freely in political affairs and in the formation, implementation, and control of public governance.”

The Constitutional Chamber saw no problem with the military chanting slogans such as: “Independence and socialist motherland, we will survive and triumph!” or “Chávez lives!”

To Rocío San Miguel, the head of the Citizens Watch on Security, Defense and FAN, the ruling represents “a historic blow to Venezuelan institutions” and implies “the legalization of FAN as the armed wing of the Revolution.”

Source: El Universal.

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