Venezuela’s ‘illegitimate’ assembly assumes power to legislate

After almost two decades of socialist rule, Venezuelan socialist loyalists now control every branch of government under the leadership of President Nicolas Maduro. 

Despite reports of fraud, protests from Democrats and international condemnation, Venezuela's new all-powerful legislative body moved Friday to take over the duties of parliament.

Venezuelan Democrats have been in control of parliament since they were elected in 2015 when 14 million voters took part in parliamentary elections. The new assembly's creed did not dissolve parliament, but nullified its powers in a move that Venezuelan Democrats view as an abrupt transition to a dictatorship. 

"Those lazy bums have to work," Delcy Rodriguez, the leader of the new all-powerful assembly, said about the members of parliament. 

In response, 109 members of parliament repudiated the new assembly and vowed not to recognize its power. Venezuelan Democrats view the assembly Maduro tasked with rewriting the 1999 constitution as illegitimate.

The delegates of the all-powerful legislative body were selected in a July election that only included socialist candidates. There were reports of electoral fraud after the company hired to run the machines raised red flags from London. 

"The constructional assembly and all its acts are illegal and unconstitutional," Julio Borges, the parliament's president, tweeted. "This decision won’t be accepted by the National Assembly, the international community or the people."

Since the socialist delegates took power two weeks ago, Maduro's administration moved to silence dissent. They jailed a violinist who worked to raise the protesters' morale. They moved to jail mayors who were accused of opposing them.

Ramón Alberto Muchacho, the mayor of Chacao, found refuge in South Florida and blames Cuba, China and Russia for supporting Maduro's armed repression against Venezuelans and his "illegitimate" assembly. 

"In Venezuela, there is a dictatorship," Muchacho said during an interview with Univision. "In Venezuela, they are not only criticizing the opposition, but they are also criticizing the media and the journalists ... There is a heroic opposition."

The government also persecuted chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega, a former loyalist who still reveres the late Hugo Chavez, but was investigating official misconduct, abuse of power and corruption. Ortega expressed her disapproval of Maduro in April. Her husband was recently accused of running an extortion ring.

Ortega said she was investigating almost $100 million in bribes that Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht admitted to paying to Venezuelan officials in exchange for contracts. She said several prosecutors involved in the probe had fled Venezuela fearing for their lives.

"They are very worried and anguished," Ortega said. "They know we have information about the transactions, the mounts and the people who enriched themselves and that this investigation implicates Mr. Nicolas Maduro and his entourage."

Maduro's administration blames their political opponents for inciting the violence that has killed about 140 Venezuelans -- including teenagers and children. The four months of protests happened as Venezuelans faced shortages of food, medicine, a high crime rate and a growing inflation rate.

The new all-powerful legislative body will move to file criminal charges against Maduro's political opponents for their deaths. In the same way, prosecutors blamed Leopoldo Lopez, who remains in house arrest in Caracas, while his pregnant wife, Lilian Tintori, and their children found refuge in the United States.

The Venezuelan parliament plans to meet Saturday and some Democratic candidates are braving a campaign during the municipal elections. 


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This BBSNews article was syndicated from News | WPLG, and written by News | WPLG. Read the original article here.

This BBSNews article originally appeared on News | WPLG.