Venezuela: Maduro’s Constitutional Congress Admits It Won’t Rewrite Constitution

Diosdado Cabello, president of the National Constituent Assembly, answers journalists questions as he arrives for a special session marking Teacher's Day at the National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Ernesto Vargas)
AP Photo/Ernesto Vargas

The leader of Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro’s illegal “national constituent assembly,” Diosdado Cabello, admitted on Sunday it will not write a new constitution despite that being its purpose when it was founded over three years ago.

Following a resounding defeat in elections of seats in the federal legislation, the National Assembly, Maduro fabricated the “national constituent assembly (ANC),” a parallel legislature meant to usurp power from opposition elected officials. Maduro’s case for the legality of the body was that it was assembled specifically to rewrite the constitution, one of the few powers Venezuela’s president constitutionally has. Openly refusing to write a new constitution renders the body unquestionably illegal.

Cabello made the revelation during an interview with state television on Sunday evening, stating that the ANC would only force through new laws rather coming up with an entirely new constitution.

“The ANC will not present a new Constitution. We are left with the issue of popular power, constitutional laws, those laws are not going to a referendum,” he explained. “To change them you have to call a new constituent assembly because they are above the organic laws because they were dictated by an ANC. Before December 31, the ANC will pass laws only for the people.”

The assembly was founded in 2017 as part of the Maduro regime’s strategy to fully consolidate power in the hands of the socialist state. As well as serving as an alternative, more powerful lawmaking body designed to overrule the democratically elected Venezuelan National Assembly, it was also created with the explicit aim of writing a new constitution, and in Maduro’s own words, preventing a “civil war.”

“We need to transform the state, especially that rotten National Assembly over there,” he declared at the time.
To gain approval for the assembly, Maduro held a nationwide referendum on the issue to create a sense of legitimacy. Despite polling indicating overwhelming opposition to the proposal, the vote was successfully rigged by the regime and denounced by international observers.

As part of its formation, the regime “elected” hundreds of constituent lawmakers, practically all of whom are fiercely loyal to Maduro’s socialist project. Cabello, who is one of Maduro’s closest allies, has led the assembly since its initial leader, Delcy Rodríguez, was appointed as the country’s vice president in 2018. Maduro’s wife and son both serve as constituents.

In his interview, Cabello was also asked to weigh on the recent dispute among the opposition involving left-wing opposition personality Henrique Capriles Radonski, who last week urged his followers to participate in December’s National Assembly elections despite all major elections under Maduro – including his own bid for the presidency – widely regarded as rigged.

“I am not going to defend Henrique Capriles, he has to make his decisions, but that is part of the fauna that is in the opposition,” he explained. “Each of them represents an economic and power group, and that is what is happening there.”

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