Opposition Mayor Sentenced to Jail Time for Violating Supreme Court Order

Gustavo Marcano has been removed from his position and will face 15 months jail time for failing to adhere to a Supreme Court order to clear roads blocked by opposition supporters.

By Rachael Boothroyd-Rojas
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Gustavo Marcano, mayor for Lecheria, Anzoátegui state. (Lecheria.gov.ve)
Gustavo Marcano, mayor for Lecheria, Anzoátegui state. (Lecheria.gov.ve)

Nueva Esparta, July 27, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s Supreme Court has handed down a ruling removing an opposition mayor from his position and sentencing him to 15 months jail time for failing to comply with one of its previous judgements. 

The case against Gustavo Marcano, an opposition mayor for the rightwing First Justice party in the state of Anzoategui, was brought before the top court through a class action suit, which included citizens and communal council spokespeople. 

The court decided that Marcano had violated one of its decisions in May, when it ordered several opposition municipal governments to guarantee their local citizens’ safety and right to free transit amidst violent anti-government protests.

Since April, opposition supporters have been barricading roads across the country to bring cities to a standstill, as well as vandalizing public services and targeting government supporters. The violent protest tactics are commonly referred to in Venezuela as “guarimbas”, and over a 100 people have been killed in the unrest to date.  

Meanwhile, several opposition mayors and even governors have been accused of facilitating and promoting the guarimbas as a form of protest, as well as ordering their local security forces to stand down when protesters break the law.

Marcano was also sentenced for violating article 87 of the Law for Municipal Public Powers and a warrant has since been issued for his arrest. The politician is also prohibited from leaving the country. 

Reacting to the news of his sentence on Tuesday, Marcano said that he would not recognize the ruling, denouncing the Supreme Court as "illegitimate". 

The opposition mayor of Chacao Ramon Muchacho has also been cited to appear before the court in early August. The wealthy eastern Caracas municipality has been an epicenter of violent anti-government mobilizations over the past three months. Muchacho has been prohibited from leaving the country in the lead-up to his hearing.  

The court’s decision came just ahead of a 48 hour general strike called by the opposition for Wednesday and Thursday this week.