The Constituent Assembly granted itself far-reaching legislative powers during its session today, effectively displacing the opposition-controlled National Assembly as Venezuela’s parliament. With today’s move, the National Assembly has effectively been neutralized and the Constituent Assembly has become Venezuela’s de facto legislative branch.
In a vote that was passed unanimously, the Constituent Assembly granted itself the power to legislative within two realms: to “guarantee the peace and institutions”, and in regards to “the socio-economic and financial sector”. The vaguely-worded categories are a virtual guarantee that the Constituent Assembly will be able to legislate on any matter that it wishes.
The president of the Constituent Assembly, Delcy Rodriguez, appeared to taunt National Assembly deputies with comments after she approved the usurpation of their powers when she said:
… you [the National Assembly deputies] have constitutional duties that you should meet and honour. You should respect the constituent power. No institution can stop our decisions.
The National Assembly was elected in 2015 with a voter turnout of over 74%, which means that approximately 13 million Venezuelans voted in the election. In contrast, the Constituent Assembly was elected with an official vote count of 8 million, a figure that has been universally decried as fraudulent, even by the company that provided the voting machines for the election.
Constituent Assembly member Elvis Amoroso read the decree in which the body took over the role of the National Assembly in today’s session, and reminded the country’s other institutions that they were all subordinate to the Constituent Assembly by saying:
Every public institution is subordinate to the National Constituent Assembly, which has the power to adopt measures [against/for] public institutions.
The Constituent Assembly’s decree in which it grants itself the legislature’s powers can be found here.
Defiant National Assembly Calls for Protest
The National Assembly reacted to its virtual dissolution today by saying that it did not recognize today’s decree from the “fraudulent” Constituent Assembly, and asserted that its stance had the backing not only of a majority of Venezuelans but also from the international community.
The legislature also called for a protest tomorrow at 10:00 AM in front of the National Assembly building in support of the institution.
The National Assembly made its position known via an open letter, which you can find here.
Maria Corina Machado: The Republic is Officially Dead
Opposition figure Maria Corina Machado, the head of the Vente Venezuela party, reacted to news of the Constituent Assembly’s usurpation of legislative powers by saying that the Maduro regime had finally succeeded in killing the Venezuelan republic.
Machado communicated hear reaction through her Twitter account, saying:
They’ve just killed what was left of the Republic.
Machado has been one of the most radical voices in the opposition for years, and often calls for street protests and complete disengagement from the Maduro regime where other opposition leaders call for dialogue and calm. Machado was also one of the first high-profile opposition leaders to refer to Maduro as a dictator.
As for what she considers to be the country’s next steps, Machado said:
Venezuela is in rebellion. We will never surrender to the dictatorship. Never.
Almagro: “Coup D’Etat Intensifies” With Constituent Assembly Decision
Luis Almagro, the head of the Organization of American States, reacted to today’s news out of the Constituent Assembly by arguing that the move helped to cement Maduro’s authoritarian takeover of Venezuela.
Almagro posted his reaction in a series of tweets, found below:
The fraudulent dissolution of the National Assembly by the Constituent Assembly deepen the coup d’etat in Venezuela.
The National Assembly was elected by the sovereign people through direct elections. Its dissolution is illegitimate and unconstitutional.
Today more than ever [it is important that we hold] an extraordinary session of the [OAS] Permanent Council over the Venezuelan crisis.
Regional Legislatures Condemn Move
The legislative branches of seven countries in the American continent have denounced the Constituent Assembly’s move this afternoon as an “institutional massacre” and a direct assault on the Venezuelan state.
The comment came via Cornelia Schmidt Lierman, the president of the Argentinian parliament’s Foreign Relations Commission, after a meeting with regional parliamentary representatives. That meeting was attended by representatives from Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, and Peru, as well as representatives from Spain.
On Maduro, Schmidt said:
Maduro has become the destroyer of the polis.
Vivanco: “Dictatorship is Formalized” in Venezuela
Jose Manuel Vivanco, the an executive director of Human Rights Watch and longtime critic of the Maduro regime, reacted to the news of the National Assembly’s neutralization by calling the event the “formalization of dictatorship” in Venezuela.
The Constituent Assembly has assumed the National Assembly’s legislative powers, [which was] the only independent body in the country. This is the formalization of dictatorship in Venezuela.
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