University of Miami Inter-American Law Review


Amid Bennaim


Access to impartial and effective courts is the cornerstone of democratic civil society. When the intention of political actors is to extinguish democratic civil society, they often wear away at the autonomy of the judiciary. International law and the constitutions of many states throughout the world guarantee access to autonomous courts. Despite having such guarantees in place, the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has consistently attacked the judiciary in order to erode its autonomy and bring it under political control. Strategies used to achieve that goal include purging judges, intimidating them, and preventing judges from getting tenure. As a result, today there are two parallel Venezuelan judiciaries competing for authority while citing to the same constitution. This article will present evidence regarding the methods through which the autonomy of Venezuela’s courts was intentionally destroyed by the Chavista government. It will begin by looking at the history of the judicial power created by the constitution of 1999, analyze the specific acts that led to the politicization of the courts, and explore the effects of that politicization on Venezuelan constitutional government.