After years of struggle, Leopoldo López -the former Mayor of Chacao and a Presidential hopeful for the opposition- was granted on September 16th a decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (ICHR) voiding his political disqualification to run for office.
The ICHR found that charges against Leopoldo López did not follow due process of law, and that there was no judicial adjudication of his case in Venezuela. Therefore, no administrative authority such as the Comptroller of the Republic could issue a political disqualification to run for office.
The Constitutional Chamber of the Venezuelan Supreme Court decided on October 17th that the decision rendered by the ICHR was “unenforceable”, holding further that Mr. López was not politically disqualified to be a candidate, but that he could not hold executive public office because he is “administrative disqualified” by the Comptroller of the Republic.
The Inter-American Convention of Human Rights is granted the same hierarchy than the Constitution itself in Venezuela's legal system; thus, the ICHR has equal rank of the highest Tribunal of the nation in regards to adjudicating human rights cases.
The Supreme Court decision, not surprisingly, used the same arguments of the Presidency through the Solicitor of the Republic (Procurador General de la República) and those anticipated by CNE (National Electoral Board). Most jurists of the Inter-American community have vouched that the Chavez regime is bound to respect the decision of the ICHR, but the government has decided to repudiate the same.
The Mesa de Unidad Democrática (MUD), the coalition gathering all opposition forces entrusted with the organization of the primaries to choose the presidential candidate of the unified opposition front, has requested the Secretary General of the OAS to inform of this developments to the representatives of all member states, as this conduct by the Venezuelan government is a violation to the provisions of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
These events represent a new test to the OAS and its Democratic Charter, precisely in the 10th anniversary of the legal instrument binding all member sates to respect the rule of law as an essential element of democracy and democratic performance. Hopefully, this will finally trigger the attention of the member states to ensure enforcement of the ICHR decision, and also agree upon a full electoral observation of the 2012 presidential elections in Venezuela.