Maduro Pushing for Constitutional Changes

Demonstrators clash with riot police during a May Day rally against Maduro  in Caracas, Venezuela, on May 1.Demonstrators clash with riot police during a May Day rally against Maduro  in Caracas, Venezuela, on May 1.

Venezuelan opposition leaders on Monday decried President Nicolas Maduro’s announcement that he is pushing for changes in the constitution.

Maduro signed an executive order that will form a “Constituent National Assembly”—a body that could make those changes. It also would allow for the reshaping of the current legislative body and redefine the president’s executive powers, CNN reported.

While Maduro provided few details, he said that the new body would contain “some 500 constituents”, who will be elected during a “direct and secret” vote.

“We must modify this state, especially the rotten National Assembly that’s currently there,” Maduro said.

The body is controlled by the opposition.

Maduro announced his plans earlier while speaking to a large crowd of government supporters who had gathered for May Day celebrations.

While the atmosphere at Maduro’s speech was one of excitement and celebration, elsewhere in Caracas, opposition protesters were being met with tear gas and water cannons.

Opposition protesters have been out on the streets since the beginning of April, calling for elections.

The elected constituents would represent all sectors of the Venezuelan society, including workers, youth, women, peasants, those who receive pensions and indigenous people, among others. He said some 200-250 would be elected via direct vote.

He emphasized that those elected to the body would be chosen by the people—and not by the political parties.

The opposition has called this move by Maduro a “self-coup”. Opposition leader, Henrique Capriles, said Maduro was “killing the Venezuelan Constitution”.

Julio Borges, leader of the National Assembly, echoed Capriles’s statement, calling it a coup against the constitution and democracy. He called it a fraud.


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