Venezuela's new assembly grabs even more power

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro could be described using any number of adjectives, but “subtle” isn’t one of them. Now that the new “constitutional assembly” (composed of candidates all selected by Maduro’s party) has been seated they’re getting down to the business of creating new rules. And one of the first to be revealed was that the ruling body had preemptively declared itself to be “superior” to all other government institutions. In other words, whatever they decide to do is the law of the land. Sounds nice and democratic, doesn’t it? (Associated Press)

The new constitutional assembly assumed even more power in Venezuela by declaring itself as the superior body to all other governmental institutions, including the opposition-controlled congress.

That decree came Tuesday just hours after the assembly delegates took control of a legislative chamber and put up pictures of the late President Hugo Chavez, who installed Venezuela’s socialist system.

Delcy Rodriguez, the head of the ruling socialist party and leader of the body, said the unanimously approved decree prohibits lawmakers in congress from taking any action that would interfere with laws passed by the newly installed constitutional assembly.

This would seem to indicate that there may be some new legislative elections in the future, serving as a fig leaf to give the appearance of representative government, but those offices will have no power. All of the rules will be made (and enforced) by Maduro’s hand picked slate of lawmakers, subject to the dictator’s approval and instructions of course.

The only other government entity with any remaining power is the Supreme Court, also stacked with Maduro associates. In the past two weeks they have ordered the arrest and detention of the mayors of four cities where opposition to the Maduro regime is widespread. A couple of them have already been “convicted” and sentenced to serious stretches in prison. The charges brought against them all involve not doing enough to crush the protests in their home towns when Maduro ordered them to.

The last semblance of democracy in Venezuela (or even “democratic socialism”) has collapsed. We’re essentially looking at a communist dictatorship at this point and the purge of Maduro’s political opponents is already underway. It’s looking increasingly doubtful that the protesters will be able to summon up enough power to overthrow the tyrant by force, so if the military doesn’t rise up and remove him it may be game over. And with the attention of the rest of the world largely preoccupied with North Korea and Russia, aside from a few more sanctions it’s highly doubtful that anyone will be doing anything about it.