Venezuela: Supreme Court Casts Doubt On Chávez Rival’s Presidential Bid

Venezuela-Leopoldo-Lopez

Today in Latin America

Top Story — The Venezuelan Supreme Court defied an international human-rights court and dealt a major blow to the political aspirations of one of President Hugo Chávez’s main rivals on Monday. The court ruled that Leopoldo López, a former mayor of the Chacao district, could not serve in public office through 2014 because he allegedly mishandled public funds among other corruption charges, though López has not been convicted of a crime. The ruling dismissed last month’s decision by the Costa Rica-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights that López should have his political rights reinstated. In a statement on its Web site, the Venezuelan Supreme Court said it was upholding the constitution and denied that Lopez was being barred for political reasons. Under the Chávez administration, Venezuela has been accused by human rights groups of using the judicial system to block or marginalize political opponents. In Chávez’s 12 years in power hundreds of opponents have been banned from government service for similar reasons. “From the beginning, this decision was going to be based on political reasons,” said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue. Chávez has “always been worried about López. This is not consistent with the rule of law.”

Read More from The Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal.

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