Diosdado Cabello, the vice president of the ruling PSUV party, became the most powerful man in Venezuela today after he was sworn in as the president of the Constituent Assembly. Cabello’s ascension to the top of the omnipotent legislative body follows Maduro’s appointment last week of Delcy Rodriguez, the Constituent Assembly’s former president, to the office of executive vice president of Venezuela.

Because the Constituent Assembly rules unchallenged–even by the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ), Venezuela’s top court or by Maduro himself–it is the most powerful entity in the country. In practice, the Constituent Assembly is a rubber-stamping body whose sole purpose appears to be lending a thin layer of legitimacy to the whims of Maduro and the PSUV.

The Constituent Assembly was elected on July 30 in a vote that was widely condemned as fraudulent. The company that provided the voting machines for the election, SmartMatic, even took the unprecedented step of issuing a public statement days after the vote to make clear that the election results announced by the Maduro regime were a work of fiction.

Despite its fraudulent origin, the Constituent Assembly as a legislative body is grounded in the Venezuelan constitution, article 349 states that none of its decisions can be overturned by any other branch of government. However, while the Constituent Assembly is supposed to exist solely for the purposes of drafting a new national constitution, it has yet to make any kind of move in that direction, and is instead ruling as Maduro’s tailor-made legislative branch.

Given its unlimited powers and undefined lifetime, the Constituent Assembly is currently the most powerful body in Venezuela.

Cabello Says He Hopes for “Real” Opposition

Shortly after taking control of the Constituent Assembly, Diosdado Cabello a speech in which he spoke highly of the body, saying:

The National Constituent Assembly is full of women and men of high revolutionary quality.

Cabello said that he hoped that “a real opposition” would surface in Venezuela so that it could engage in productive politics with the PSUV.

Maduro: “Funny” To Think I’m a Dictator

Maduro gave a speech today in Miranda state where he spoke on a number of issues, including his own understanding of what kind of leader he is.

Maduro said:

It makes me laugh to think that I could be a dictator. Could you imagine Maduro being a dictator? (…) the people wouldn’t stand for a dictator or a dictatorship by anyone.

Since coming to power in 2013, Maduro has faced two waves of opposition protests that have spanned the course of months and left nearly 200 people dead. Maduro successfully crushed the protests in both instances–in 2014 and in 2017–with brutal repression that involved the arbitrary arrest of thousands of Venezuelans, including political opposition leaders, many of whom are in prison or in exile today.

Colombian President Elect Will Not Send Ambassador to Caracas

Colombian president-elect Ivan Duque said today that upon taking office, Colombia’s government would not recognize Maduro as president of Venezuela, and that he would not send an ambassador to Caracas.

Duque won the run-off presidential election on Sunday, beating his rival Gustavo Petro.

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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