Venezuelan socialists seize power from opposition-led congress

John Sexton Posted at 7:21 pm on August 18, 2017

Venezuela’s Constituent Assembly says it has assumed all of the powers of the opposition-led National Assembly [Venezuela’s congress], thereby placing all control of the failing country in the hands of the socialist party and President Nicolas Maduro. From the Miami Herald:

The assembly, or ANC, said it would be assuming legislative functions to “preserve peace, security and sovereignty.”…

Congressional President Julio Borges told El Nuevo Herald that the ANC is “fraudulent” and that its actions shouldn’t be recognized by congress or the international community.

The new body “is doing exactly what the entire world warned it would do,” he said, “installing a dictatorship in Venezuela.”

Indeed, the entire effort to establish the Constituent Assembly can best be seen as Maduro’s ham-fisted workaround to the problem of an existing elected opposition. At the end of March Venezuela’s Supreme Court, which is packed with socialists loyal to President Nicolas Maduro, announced it was usurping the power of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, exactly like what happened today. The outrage resulting from that move was so great that the government backtracked a few days later. Even after it was retracted, the move led to months of protests which at times shut down major parts of the capital city.

With his first attempt to stave off national elections and seize complete control of the country having backfired, President Maduro settled on another approach. In June, he announced plans to rewrite the country’s constitution. He set up an election for a Constituent Assembly guaranteed to favor the socialist party. Millions of Venezuelans held a symbolic vote opposing the formation of the new Assembly but Maduro ignored it. Now the Assembly which he created to maintain his power is declaring the elected representatives of the nation’s congress have no more control of anything. The National Assembly tweeted a response calling this a “coup d ‘ état.”

“The coup d ‘ état perpetrated by the ANC is the deepening of the actions exercised by the Maduro regime against AN and the Constitution.”

“The ANC is null and void and their acts illegal and unconstitutional. Cancellation decision is not heeded by AN, international community or people.”

It remains to be seen if Maduro has finally succeeded in eliminating the one remaining governmental body with the power to oppose him. Even if he has, the country is still facing triple-digit inflation, chronic food shortages and one of the highest crime rates in the world. Maduro can rearrange the deck chairs on his sinking ship all he wants but the ship is going down and taking the socialists along with it. At some point, the privation will become severe enough that even the military will turn on Maduro. How many months can it be before we see him fleeing the country for safe harbor in Cuba or Iran?

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