By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS -- Venezuela’s Constituent Assembly issued a terse decree Tuesday: all public powers are now under its control. Citizens of the oil-rich country may call it “la ilegitima” (the ilegitimate) but the power grab initiated by embattled President Nicolas Maduro in May looks like it has been completed.
“The powers that be are subordinated to this National Constituent Assembly. This is a decree that reflects the good will of this Assembly which has a very clear message of cordiality, of conviviality and understanding between Venezuelans,” Constituent President Delcy Rodriguez said after the fact during a television interview with a government channel.
She is now more powerful than Nicolas Maduro, according to the Constitution she has said she will change, together with 500-plus other delegates.
Instead of peace and understanding however, the Constituent has mostly produced violent protest (156 demonstrators and security forces killed since early April, including 16 on the day the Constituent was elected, July 39th and two on Monday), an attack on one of the country’s largest garrisons (last Sunday, two killed and 100 weapons stolen) and the undignified removal of Attorney General Luisa Ortega, 60, who was investigating Venezuela government officials involved in the billion dollar Odebrecht bribery scheme as well as 36,000 other corruption cases, as well as human-rights violations.
Ortega had to flee her own office Saturday after National Guards physically attacked her and prevented her from entering the building. One of her security detail is in custody.
And more conflict seems to be on the way, as Rodriguez put it. In the same interview she said she had asked the President of the National Assembly legislative to cooperate and that he had declined. In plaintive tones she explained how she had expressed “the need for coexistence between the Constituent and that power (the National Assembly) and his answer is that they will not contribute to it.”
A faulty system of checks and balances was no match to what Maduro calls “the civilian-military union”: trespasses (including electoral fraud and physical aggression) perpetrated by pro-government politicians while protected by the military. The Constituent Assembly has become a supra-Constitutional power, in spite of the fact that Venezuelans were not asked if they want a Constituent Assembly nor their fairly new 1999 Constitution changed.
Never mind that even the company that provided the software and hardware for the Constituent elections confirms that the government produced fraudulent numbers on July 30th, or that 40-plus countries, ranging from neighboring Colombia to the faraway Vatican, have denounced the elections and the "results" as undemocratic and fraudulent.
On Tuesday, Foreign Ministers from 14 Latin American nations met in Peru in an effort to find a solution to the increasingly desperate Venezuela problem.
The Constituent has not written the first word of any new Constitution it says will draft, but in less than four days since its inception it has staged two break-ins inside the Federal Legislative Palace (the first one to seat itself and the second one to move to the National Assembly's chamber), sacked the anti-Maduro Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz, and extended its rule for 2 years. All of it, with the aid of ever present National Guard.
Rodriguez sees it differently. In her view, expressed again Tuesday, President Maduro “has invited dialogue and their answer (the opposition’s) has been no to understanding between Venezuelans and instead of deploying political action they have called for war, death, hate and intolerance.”
At the same time, early Tuesday morning the nation's illegitimately packed Chavista Supreme Court sentenced opposition leader and Chacao Mayor Ramon Muchacho to 15 months in prison as well as banning him from office during that time. Muchacho, Mayor of the Chacao area of Caracas that Leopoldo Lopez was also mayor of, becomes the fourth mayor to be jailed by the Maduro regime. Lopez is serving a illegitimate 13.5 year sentence for "subliminally" inciting violence.
Maduro became last week the fourth head of state to be sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department, the first Latin American and the first in the Western Hemisphere. The illustrious list includes three living and sitting heads of state (Kim Jong-un of North Korea, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, and Bashar al Assad of Syria). Two others once on the list are dead: Saddam Hussein of Iraq and Muammar Gaddafi of Libya.