The National Constituent Assembly (ANC) — a body of 545 representatives of different localities, and social movements, labor groups, and indigenous communities which is now the highest legal power in Venezuela — was sworn in on August 4 at a ceremony attended by thousands of jubilant Chavistas who support the Bolivarian revolutionary government. During the ceremony, Delcy Rodríguez, who resigned months ago from her post as Foreign Minister in hopes of winning a seat in the ANC, was unanimously elected president of the assembly.
In addition to urging her colleagues to remember the spirit of the 1999 constitution and of the former President and leader of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution Comandante Hugo Chávez, Rodríguez urged the country’s right wing to put an end to the fascistic street blockades which have led to over a hundred deaths while seeking to overthrow the democratically elected socialist government. She also stressed, “The Venezuelan people do not want war. The Venezuelan people want peace.” It was in this spirit that the very next day the ANC convened for its first working session.
Among the first steps taken by the ANC, which is empowered to modify and update the country’s constitution, was the creation of a Commission for Truth, Justice, and Reparation for Victims to investigate that right wing violence which has created chaos in the country and invited meddling in Venezuelan affairs by external forces.
The commission announced the suspension of Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz from her position pending an investigation into her alleged support of the right wing violence in the form of her refusal to prosecute detained violent actors, her repeated attempts to bog down the normal functioning of the judicial branch by objecting to the legitimacy of appointees she had previously approved herself, as well as her campaign to block the constitutionally-sound constituent assembly process.
In another move against officials lending material support to the violent opposition, Venezuela’s Supreme Court of Justice called for the arrest of Mayor Ramon Muchacho of Chacao, the wealthiest municipality in Caracas. This is in response to Muchacho’s refusal to take action against the deadly street blockades set up by small bands of opposition provocateurs. The
Supreme Court of Justice had previously warned that refusal to act by mayors in localities where the opposition has been violent in the streets would result in criminal charges and prosecution.
Contradictions among the rightwing
While the ANC has been getting to work, contradictions have been appearing among the country’s rightwing.
Parliamentarian opposition figure Ramos Allup declared that his party, Democratic Action, would indeed participate in the upcoming local, regional and presidential elections, in effect recognizing the legitimacy of the country’s world-class electoral system — the same system that others on the right have maligned as fraudulent in the wake of the ANC elections on July 30. Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro on August 7 on his public television show Sundays with Maduro welcomed this intention to participate and again repeated his call for dialogue and reconciliation via the electoral route.
Less than one week after Allup’s announcement a disgraced junior officer, who had been expelled from the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) years ago, led a cobbled-together group of civilians in a failed paramilitary attack on Fort Paramacay in the state of Carabobo. The attack was condemned by FANB leadership and the Bolivarian government as terroristic in nature, and the captured combatants admitted to having been contacted by figures from the rightwing opposition in collusion with foreign governments, according to a communique issued by the FANB following the incident.
These two very different responses to the convening of the National Constituent assembly demonstrate the divisions and current rudderless nature of the opposition in Venezuela. By contrast, the Venezuelan left inside the country has been remarkably united in support of the Bolivarian government and the peaceful constituent assembly process.
Defense Minister and leader of the FANB Vladimir Padrino López, following the attack on Fort Paramacay, reinforced that military operations throughout the country are absolutely in a normal state — that the terrorist attack represented no existing current inside the FANB — and that the FANB “has deepened its anti-imperialist and Bolivarian character” over the last few years. The nation’s armed forces were instrumental in ensuring that the ANC elections could proceed successfully and safely.
Statements of support
Official statements of solidarity and support have been issued by the Communist Party of Cuba, the nations of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), China’s Foreign Ministry, and the Party for Socialism and Liberation among many others. Leader of the UK’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn found himself blasted in the international corporate-owned press for his refusal to denounce Maduro as a dictator and for a lukewarm comment about his opposition of all violence in Venezuela.
Bolivian president Evo Morales, soon after addressing a massive gathering of his country’s armed forces in a national ceremony where he urged them to stand ready to protect regional sovereignty, used Twitter to warn against U.S. aggression in all its forms — be they economic through sanctions, obfuscated by operating through junior partners like Peru or of a direct military character.
Even world-renowned soccer superstar Diego Maradona expressed his support for Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution, saying on Facebook, “When Maduro orders, I am dressed as a soldier for a free Venezuela, to fight against imperialism.”
All this served as the backdrop for the reconvening of the National Constituent Assembly on Wednesday, Aug 9, where the topic of discussion was one of paramount importance: the struggle to diversify, strengthen, and address the character of Venezuela’s economy in the face of the economic war waged by the national and international forces of austerity, neoliberalism and counter-revolution.