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Venezuela Opens Disputed Constituent Assembly

Venezuela Opens Disputed Constituent AssemblyVenezuela Opens Disputed Constituent Assembly

Venezuela’s controversial new assembly has opened despite fierce opposition at home and abroad.

President Nicolas Maduro says the constituent assembly is needed to bring peace after months of crisis, BBC reported.

But the opposition says the new body, which has the ability to rewrite the constitution, is a way for the president to cling to power.

In the capital Caracas, police used tear gas against opposition protesters who tried to reach parliament.

Several people were injured as security forces tried to disperse a few hundred demonstrators, reports say.

In other parts of the city, thousands of government supporters gathered to cheer and wave flags as the new members took office. Some carried pictures of late leader Hugo Chavez and the independence hero Simon Bolivar.

Despite the protests and despite the criticism both at home and abroad, the Maduro administration has refused to change tack. This constituent assembly was a “victory” for the government, even though most people see it as anything but that.

The international community might not sit and wait for things to improve. Maduro and several of his friends are already under sanctions. There is a suggestion that the US may broaden sanctions to cover the oil industry but that would be a very unpopular move. With the country relying on oil for more than 95% of its foreign earnings, the fall-out would hurt the people more than the politicians.

Constituent assemblies are set up for the specific purpose of drafting or adopting a constitution, and as such can fundamentally change how a country is run.

Venezuela is mired in a deep economic crisis and has seen waves of violent protests, and Maduro presented the assembly as a way of promoting “reconciliation and peace”.

 

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