Venezuela Backs Down From Power Grab
Though opponents say it's too little, too late
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 1, 2017 9:41 AM CDT
University students clash with Bolivarian National Police Officers during a protest outside of the Justice Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, March 31, 2017.    (Ariana Cubillos)
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(Newser) – Venezuela's president and Supreme Court backed down Saturday from a surprise move to strip congress of its legislative powers that had sparked widespread charges that the South American country was no longer a democracy, the AP reports. President Nicolas Maduro asked the Supreme Court in a late-night speech to review a ruling nullifying the lawmaking body after that decision set off a storm of criticism from the opposition and foreign governments. The court on Saturday released new rulings that apparently reinstated congress' authority.

It was a rare instance of the embattled socialist president backing away from a move to increase his power. Opposition leaders dismissed the backtracking as too little too late and called on Venezuelans to take to the street Saturday morning against what they called an attempted coup. They said the clarification issued by the judges only proved yet again that Maduro controls the courts and there is no longer a real separation of powers in Venezuela. At the same time, administration critics celebrated the reversal as proof that cracks are beginning to show in Maduro's control of the country, with his approval ratings dipping below 20% amid a worsening economic and humanitarian crisis.

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