VENEZUELA: Maduro Establishes Constituent Assembly Amid Global Criticism

Kristopher Drake
August 7, 2017

Even as the all-powerful constitutional assembly moved quickly against Ortega, there were signs it may be rethinking about extending its crackdown. He returned home again Saturday.

The constitutional assembly was seated despite strong criticism from the United States, other countries and the Venezuelan opposition, which fear that it will be a tool for imposing dictatorship.

In a country that has been rocked by turmoil for months, NPR's Reeves urged caution in weighing competing claims around the supposed uprising.

More than 100 people have died in clashes between security forces, and protesters and more than 500 people have been detained, reports the AP.

"One hand, one political party" has taken total control through "an undemocratic mechanism that is utterly dictatorial", the leader of the opposition-controlled legislature, Julio Borges, told reporters on Saturday.

Authorities said the men were mercenaries working for a US -backed opposition to bring down almost two decades of Socialism in oil-rich Venezuela, raising the specter of a further government crackdown on dissent in coming days.

The legislative chamber is controversially seen as replacing the Opposition-controlled National Assembly or Congress.

The lieutenant and several of the attackers were arrested but "an intense search" was on for the others who made off with the guns, the military said.

"We declare ourselves in legitimate rebellion, united today more than ever, with the fearless Venezuelan people, to ignore the murderous tyranny of Nicolás Maduro", a soldier said in the clip. "The only thing it's doing is destroying itself and committing suicide".

According to the Venezuelan News Agency, the 545 elected members of the assembly will begin to "define the new political, economic, social and cultural bases that will contribute to deepening the republican model of social justice developed in the country since 1999".

The measures adopted expand on previous sanctions against Venezuela, which had been temporarily suspended from the bloc in December.

The Brazilian Foreign Ministry calls Luisa Ortega Diaz's ouster "arbitrary and illegal".

During his inauguration speech, Delcy Rodriguez, a friend of Mr Maduro, who was nicknamed "the tigress", has firmly rejected such criticism: "for the worldwide community (...) the message is clear, very clear: we, Venezuelans, will solve our conflict, our crisis, without any kind of foreign interference".

Venezuelans view the armed forces as the key power broker in their country, and opposition leaders have repeatedly exhorted the military to break with Maduro over what they call his erosion of democracy and brutality toward demonstrators. In speeches leading up to the election of assembly delegates on last Sunday, a vote that was boycotted by his opponents, Maduro said dissidents would be punished with possible jail terms.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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