New Venezuelan Assembly Promises Quick Action

Laura Christensen
August 6, 2017

Former Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez, 48, was elected President of the 545-member Assembly. "What we have is love, what we have is a crisis of the right-wing fascists".

The assembly was set to meet again today, and Rodriguez pledged it would take action against political opponents. "Tomorrow we start to act".

Speaking to the National Guard that have been on the front lines of four months of deadly protests, Maduro promised that more than 580 members of the force who he said had been attacked since the protest movement began would receive reparations as part of the work of the Constitutional assembly that convened for the first time Friday. The opposition, which boycotted the vote on the grounds that the creation of the assembly undermines basic democratic principles, is calling for protests against it. asking that Friday's planned installation of the assembly be suspended and urged Venezuela's security forces to avoid "excessive and disproportionate use of force" in dealing with protesters.

The Vatican message expresses "deep worry for the radicalization and worsening" of Venezuela's political crisis and for the rising toll of casualties and prisoners from anti-government clashes.

Governments ranging from Latin American neighbors to the United States and European Union have condemned the assembly, with the Vatican making a last minute plea for authorities to suspend it.

The Constituent Assembly will have the power to change the country's 1999 constitution.

The assembly will have sweeping powers and the opposition fears it will be used to strengthen Maduro's power and further crack down on dissent. Several opposition activists have been jailed in recent days, others are rumored to be seeking exile and one leader has broken ranks from the opposition alliance to say his party will field candidates in regional elections despite widespread mistrust of Venezuela's electoral system.

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The body's legitimacy was struck a hard blow when a British-based firm that supplied the voting technology, Smartmatic, said this week the turnout figure was "tampered with" and greatly exaggerated.

It was also widely dismissed as illegitimate by the worldwide community, who saw it as a way for Maduro to bypass the legitimate Parliament - the National Assembly - which is now controlled by the right-wing opposition.

The assembly said Tarek William Saab, a staunch government supporter and a Maduro loyalist, would replace Ortega Diaz as Venezuela's attorney general.

Fellow opposition leader Leopoldo López, re-arrested on the same night as Ledezma after having previously been placed under house arrest, remains incarcerated. Maduro said the new assembly will help restore peace. On Tuesday Michael Fitzpatrick - one of Tillerson's chief diplomats and the state department's deputy assistant for South America - said that the Trump administration still considered the Maduro government to be legitimate.

The former foreign minister was not among the candidates mentioned to assume the presidency, among which were the wife of Maduro, Cilia Flores, and Hector Rodriguez, the head of the pro-government bench in the National Assembly, where the opposition holds a large majority.

"It will be a biased and skewed instrument that will not resolve but rather aggravate the acute problems of the high cost of living and the lack of food and medicine that the people suffer and will worsen the political crisis we now suffer", the bishops said.

Other reports by My Hot News

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