CARACAS – The ambassadors of Spain, Mexico, France and the United Kingdom on Tuesday are attending a session of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled Parliament, against which the Nicolas Maduro government has threatened to take measures after the weekend election of members of a constitutional assembly that could replace it.
“Venezuela at this moment must have the clear conviction that accompanies all the world’s democracies ... who are not only supporting but democratically pressuring so that in Venezuela whoever governs will have the force of law,” the president of Parliament, Julio Borges, said prior to the start of the session.
Maduro said after announcing the official results of Sunday’s vote to select the constitutional assembly members, that once the Constituent Assembly – which many countries have not recognized – had been officially constituted he will eliminate the parliamentary immunity of lawmakers.
“The private meeting of the (National Assembly) leadership is beginning with the diplomatic corps,” the parliamentary leadership announced on Twitter in a post accompanied by a photograph of the envoys seated with the body’s top officials.
“We’re going to continue working here. We’re here because of the mandate of 14 million Venezuelans. We’re going to continue doing our ... job and I think that that must be respected by the whole world,” said Borges regarding the potential supplanting of the chamber by the Constituent Assembly.
Borges said that so far he had received no communication from the government about the potential installation of the Constituent Assembly in the building housing Parliament, which has been in an open “war” with the government since the opposition won an absolute majority in the 2015 legislative elections.
Maduro said that in addition to reviewing parliamentary immunity, he will also launch a commission to judge those he considers to be responsible for the violence that has erupted at opposition marches.
The president went on to say that – once the Constituent Assembly begins work – a cell is waiting for the vice president of Parliament, Freddy Guevara.
The United States, Spain, Mexico and Colombia have announced that they will not recognize a constitutional assembly tasked with rewriting Venezuela’s constitution and which has no democratic legitimacy, since it was convened without a prior referendum approving it and despite its outright rejection by the opposition and broad sectors of society.
Tuesday’s parliamentary session began after the Venezuelan intelligence service arrested opposition politicians Antonio Ledezma and Leopoldo Lopez at their homes in Caracas.
The pair, who are considered to be political prisoners by several organizations, were serving their previously imposed sentences under house arrest but were once again transferred to prison without any corresponding judicial orders.