Venezuela: Maduro Postpones Parallel Legislature Takeover as Opposition Plans Major March

Venezuelans, who protested against President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on Monday after the controversial vote, are planning to be back in the streets on Thursday
AFP RONALDO SCHEMIDT

Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro has postponed the installation of the “National Constituents’ Assembly” (ANC), a fabricated socialist lawmaking body meant to usurp the power of the National Assembly, following an election widely believed to be fraudulent.

Maduro plans to induct the “constituents” into their legislative seats on Friday, replacing the democratically-elected National Assembly. Opposition lawmakers have stated that they will not abandon their seats and are willing to give up their lives defending them, while urging civilians to congregate in front of the National Assembly’s headquarters to prevent the socialist representatives from taking their seats.

Maduro announced Wednesday that the takeover of the legislature would occur on Friday, and not Thursday, so that “it can be organized well, in peace, in tranquility, and with all the necessary protocol” in place. He added that waiting one day would help dispel unspecified “threats” against the socialist usurpers.

“The ANC will have to firmly begin occupying the political scene institutionally, morally, spiritually, in the Republic to regenerate the nation, re-found the nation, on very firm bases to make peace,” Maduro said, according to the regional leftist propaganda outlet Telesur.

In addition to illegally claiming all lawmaking duties from the National Assembly, Maduro—apparently tired of being accused of violating the nation’s constitution—has tasked the ANC with drafting a new constitution friendlier to his regime. The current constitution, a product of the Hugo Chávez regime, was adopted in 1999.

The Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) has reportedly already seized one of the halls of the Venezuelan legislative palace in anticipation for the takeover Friday.

While Maduro has referred to the ANC as a peacemaking body, other high-profile socialists have threatened the opposition with violence if they do not accept the unconstitutional move. “They’d better not get funny,” Iris Varela, a member of the ANC, said this week. “There are 100 assemblymen, count them up … we are 545 constituents who represent the people and we say ‘enough.'”

Diosdado Cabello—the socialist minority leader in the National Assembly, soon-to-be member of the ANC, and alleged drug kingpin—called the opposition “terrorists” on his television program Hitting with the Mallet. “What should the ANC do,” he asked, to the Attorney General’s office, the public ministry, and other sectors of the Venezuelan government that have rejected Maduro? “Turn them belly up,” he answered himself, “so that they come to the side of truth, so that they take the side of justice.”

The Venezuelan outlet Runrunes notes that threats of violence against the opposition are nothing new. Another Venezuelan socialist propagandist, television host Mario Silva, said on a broadcast last month that the way to elect the ANC was to “beat the fuck out of all those motherfuckers and start arresting them … from the Attorney General on down they should be in prison.”

The opposition has rescheduled protests planned for Thursday over to Friday following the announcement of a new start date for the ANC. National Assembly President Julio Borges has asserted that he would not cancel any legislative activity scheduled for after the ANC takes over.

On Tuesday, lawmaker Freddy Guevara made the same vow much more dramatically. “The only way you are getting rid of this Parliament is by killing the 112 representatives who are here,” Guevara said, calling the ANC election “an internal Socialist Party (PSUV) election where the usual suspects keep hold of power.”

No opposition candidates appeared on ballots for the ANC election last Sunday. The election technology company responsible for the ballots later issued a statement that they had found evidence of tampering with the votes despite the fact that only socialist candidates appeared on the ballots.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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