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Supreme Tribunal of Justice of Venezuela in exile

The Supreme Tribunal of Justice of Venezuela (TSJ[3]) in exile is an institution that some, including the Organization of American States, consider to be the legitimate highest court of law in Venezuela and the head of the judicial branch, as opposed to the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (Venezuela). It was established on 21 July 2017 following the 2017 Venezuelan constitutional crisis.[4] The TSJ's 33 members have been based in Chile, Colombia, Panama, and the United States due to the political crisis in Venezuela.[5]

Supreme Tribunal of Justice
Tribunal Supremo de Justicia
Supreme Tribunal of Justice in Exile logo.png
Authorized byConstitution of Venezuela
Number of positions33
WebsiteOfficial website
CurrentlyMiguel Ángel Martín



Following the death of President Hugo Chávez, Venezuela faced a severe socioeconomic crisis during the presidency of his successor, President Nicolás Maduro, as a result of their policies.[6][7][8][9] Due to the state's high levels of urban violence, inflation, and chronic shortages of basic goods attributed to economic policies such as strict price controls,[10][11] civil insurrection in Venezuela culminated in the widespread protests in the country.[12][13]

The discontent with the Bolivarian government saw the opposition being elected to hold the majority in the National Assembly of Venezuela for the first time since 1999 following the 2015 Parliamentary Election.[14] As a result of that election, the Bolivarian officials of the lame duck National Assembly filled the Supreme Tribunal of Justice with their allies.[14][15]

Both the opposition and several jurists have defined the appointment as illegal for not being performed according to the constitution and the Organic Law, including the challenges period, their lack of responses and the omission of the definite selections of the candidates.[16][17][18] According to a mid 2016 report issued by the Venezuelan NGO Acceso a la Justicia (Access to Justice), only one of seven justices of the Constitutional Chamber comply with the requirements for the position demanded by Venezuelan laws and their designation process was irregular.[19][20] On 14 June 2016 the National Assembly nullifed the appointment carried out in 2015.[21]

Following months of unrest surrounding the recall referendum against President Maduro in 2016, on 29 March 2017 the Bolivarian Supreme Tribunal of Justice ruled that the National Assembly was "in a situation of contempt", because of the aforementioned rulings against the election of some of its members. It stripped the Assembly of legislative powers, and took those powers for itself; which meant that the Court would have been able to create laws. The court did not indicate if or when it might hand power back.[22] As a result of the ruling, the 2017 Venezuelan protests began surrounding the constitutional crisis, with the Bolivarian Supreme Tribunal of Justice reversing its ruling on 1 April 2017.[23]

After being stripped of power during the constitutional crisis and the call for a rewriting of the constitution by the Bolivarian government, opposition-led National Assembly of Venezuela created a Judicial Nominations Committee on 13 June 2017 to elect new members of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice.[24] On 12 July 2017, Ombudsman Tarek Saab, head of the Moral Council of Venezuela, said that the call for new magistrates would not be officially recognized by the Bolivarian government and that the magistrates already appointed by the lame duck Bolivarian National Assembly would instead continue to be recognized.[25] Despite the rejection of recognition by the Bolivarian government, the opposition-led National Assembly then voted 33 magistrates into office on 21 July 2017, creating a de jure Supreme Tribunal of Justice separate from the Bolivarian government.[4]

Sentence of the Supreme Tribunal in exile that annuls the 2013 presidential elections and requests the presidency and the CNE to send a certified copy of the president's birth certificate, as well as the resignation from his Colombian nationality


Presidential casesEdit

On 11 January 2018, the Supreme Tribunal decreed the nullity of the 2013 Venezuelan presidential elections after lawyer Enrique Aristeguita Gramcko presented evidence about the presumed non-existence of ineligibility conditions of Nicolás Maduro to be elected and to hold the office of the presidency. Aristeguieta argued in the appeal that, under Article 96, Section B, of the Political Constitution of Colombia, Nicolás Maduro Moros, even in the unproven case of having been born in Venezuela, is "Colombian by birth" because he is the son of a Colombian mother and by having resided in that territory during his youth. The Constitutional Chamber admitted the demand and requested the presidency and the Electoral Council to send a certified copy of the president's birth certificate, in addition to his resignation from Colombian nationality.[26]

On 2 July 2018, the Supreme Tribunal ruled that Maduro was no longer the legitimate President of Venezuela and called for the opposition-led National Assembly of Venezuela to appoint a new President of Venezuela.[16] The ruling was supported by Secretary General of the Organization of American States Luis Almagro.[16] Days later on 9 July 2018, the Supreme Tribunal ordered CICPC to arrest Maduro and present him to them to face trial.[27]

Maduro was sentenced unanimously to 18 years and 3 months in prison on 15 August 2018 by the tribunal, with the exiled high court stating "there is enough evidence to establish the guilt ... [of] corruption and legitimation of capital".[28] The Organization of American States supported the verdict and asked for the Venezuelan National Assembly to recognize the TSJ in exile's ruling.[29]

Humanitarian aidEdit

On 8 February 2019, under case file SC-2017-003, the Supreme Tribunal announced the authorization for the entry of an international military coalition to secure the entry and protection of humanitarian aid to Venezuela.[30]


The Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, has shown support for the Supreme Tribunal of Justice in exile.[16] The Senate of Chile and the Chamber of Deputies of Chile also recognized the TSJ in exile as the legitimate judicial branch of Venezuela.[31][32]

However, the current Maduro government does not recognize the Tribunal.[25]


  1. ^ "Senado chileno reconoce al TSJ en el exilio como autoridad legítima de Venezuela". Diario Las Americas (in Spanish). Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  2. ^ "Parlamento chileno aprueba proyecto que reconoce la legitimidad del TSJ venezolano en el exilio". La Patilla (in Spanish). 2018-10-04. Retrieved 2018-10-05.
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b "Venezuela: un "Tribunal Supremo de Justicia" en el exilio se instala en la OEA". Clarín (in Spanish). 12 October 2017. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  5. ^ Lake, Eli (28 January 2019). "The Exiled Court Protecting Venezuelan Democracy". Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  6. ^ Kevin Voigt (6 March 2013). "Chavez leaves Venezuelan economy more equal, less stable". CNN. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
  7. ^ Corrales, Javier (7 March 2013). "The House That Chavez Built". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  8. ^ Siegel, Robert (25 December 2014). "For Venezuela, Drop in Global Oil Prices Could Be Catastrophic". NPR. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  9. ^ Scharfenberg, Ewald (1 February 2015). "Volver a ser pobre en Venezuela". El País. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  10. ^ "Inflation rate (consumer prices)". The World Factbook. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  11. ^ "Venezuela's economy: Medieval policies". The Economist. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  12. ^ "Venezuela's Maduro says 2013 annual inflation was 56.2 pct". Reuters. 30 December 2013. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  13. ^ "Venezuela Inflation Hits 16-Year High as Shortages Rise". Bloomberg. 7 November 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  14. ^ a b Casey, Nicholas; Torres, Patricia (30 March 2017). "Venezuela Muzzles Legislature, Moving Closer to One-Man Rule". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  15. ^ "Venezuela's Lame-Duck Congress Names New Supreme Court Justices". Bloomberg. 23 December 2015. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  16. ^ a b c d "Tribunal Supremo en el exilio insta a Asamblea Nacional a nombrar nuevo presidente de Venezuela". El Nuevo Herald. Retrieved 2018-07-10.
  17. ^ Cite error: The named reference :2 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  18. ^ Cite error: The named reference :3 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  19. ^ Vanessa, Moreno Losada (5 April 2017). "Sentencias de la Sala Constitucional son firmadas por magistrados que incumplen requisitos para el cargo". Efecto Cocuyo. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  20. ^ Moreno Losada, Vanessa (16 October 2016). "Máximos intérpretes de la Constitución en el TSJ no llegan a 15 años en el ejercicio del derecho". Efecto Cocuyo. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  21. ^ "Venezuela: AN aprueba anular designación de magistrados". Deutsche Welle. Prodavinci. 15 July 2016. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  22. ^ "Venezuela 'coup': Alarm grows as court takes power". BBC. 31 March 2017. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  23. ^ "Venezuela: Supreme court backtracks on powers bid". BBC. 1 April 2017. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  24. ^ "Asamblea Nacional continuará proceso para elección de nuevos magistrados". El Nacional (in Spanish). 2017-06-13. Retrieved 2018-07-10.
  25. ^ a b "Consejo Moral Republicano rechazó listado de preseleccionados al cargo de Magistrados realizado por la AN -". La Patilla (in Spanish). 2017-07-12. Retrieved 2018-07-10.
  26. ^ "TSJ en el exilio decreta nulidad de elección de Maduro como presidente". Diario las Américas. 11 January 2018. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  27. ^ "TSJ en el exilio ordena al Cicpc la aprehensión de Nicolás Maduro (Oficio)". La Patilla (in Spanish). 2018-07-09. Retrieved 2018-07-15.
  28. ^ "TSJ en el exilio sentenció a Nicolás Maduro a 18 años y 3 meses de cárcel por corrupción -". La Patilla (in Spanish). 2018-08-15. Retrieved 2018-08-16.
  29. ^ "Almagro solicita al presidente de la AN que acate la sentencia emitida por el TSJ en el exilio contra Maduro (Carta)". La Patilla (in Spanish). 2018-08-20. Retrieved 2018-08-21.
  30. ^ "Magistrados en el exilio autorizan coalición militar internacional para entrega de ayuda humanitaria" [Magistrates in exile authorize international military coalition for delivery of humanitarian aid]. NTN24 (in Spanish). 8 February 2019. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  31. ^ "Senado chileno reconoce al TSJ en el exilio como autoridad legítima de Venezuela". Diario Las Americas (in Spanish). Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  32. ^ "Parlamento chileno aprueba proyecto que reconoce la legitimidad del TSJ venezolano en el exilio". La Patilla (in Spanish). 2018-10-04. Retrieved 2018-10-05.