By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS -- The Nicolas Maduro-controlled National Constituent Assembly, which was fraudulently created without a single opposition member, gave itself the power to pass laws on Friday -- a power specifically reserved for the opposition-dominated National Assembly by the nation's constitution.
Constituent President Delcy Rodriguez pointed out that National Assembly President Julio Borges and Vice President Freddy Guevara had not attended the meeting before the Constituent National Assembly even though they were summoned, as other powers, namely the already Maduro-controlled Supreme Court, Armed Forces and CNE electoral board, had done in previous days.
“Their backs are to the people,” claimed Rodriguez when Borges, Guevara and other opposition lawmakers failed to show up at her invitation. Minutes later she read a decree, which still has not been published, a tersely worded statement that in essence said that the Constituent Assembly would assume most of all of the functions of the National Assembly. “They were obligated to come here and subordinate the Assembly to the Constituent,” Rodriguez said later during a radio interview.
The National Assembly "only obeys the constitution and the people," said National Assembly Vice President Freddy Guevara via twitter. "We do not recognize the constituent assembly much less subordinate ourselves to it."
This is the second attempt since March by the government of Maduro to usurp functions of the legislature: the Supreme Court issued a decision in late March saying it would assume the role and functions of the Assembly, a move that triggered a widespread and ongoing Constitutional crisis, which forced Maduro to call on a supra-Constitutional Constituent Assembly as a means of retaining and amplifying the power of the executive.
The opposition-controlled National Assembly was installed January 5th 2016, after handing Maduro the biggest electoral defeat in Venezuelan electoral history, of almost two million votes. It was the first time in the 16 years since Hugo Chavez became president that the opposition had control of the legislative branch. However, Maduro set out to ignore, disregard and curtail the National Assembly through the actions of the Supreme Court and the CNE electoral board, in spite of the fact that the Assembly had been elected with the votes of 14 million Venezuelans, the most voters of any recent election in the oil-rich country. The government publicly bemoaned the fact that the opposition had obtained a super-majority, getting 112 seats to only 56 for Maduro’s candidates, and quickly invalidated some opposition winners.
The creation of the Constituent itself was not trouble-free. The Attorney General, Luisa Ortega, deemed the initiative unconstitutional and was sacked by the new Constituent National Assembly and replaced with a pro-Maduro official. Violence broke out on July 30th, the day the Constituent was elected, with 16 demonstrators and security forces getting killed in street clashes between pro and anti-Constituent forces.
When the government said more than 8 million people had voted for delegates to the Constituent all hell broke loose: the company that provided the technology, programming, software and ran the machines for the election said the results the government reported were false and 40-plus countries, including the U.S. and the European Union, said they were not going to recognize the new body.
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