Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Venezuela: Maduro, I am not Mussolini, wants a new Venezuelan Constitution...bwahaha. I bet it would promise more of what it cannot produce.

Nicolás Maduro Calls for New Venezuelan Constitution 

President signs order to convene special assembly to redraft constitution and tells critics: ‘I am no Mussolini’

Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro speaking during his weekly broadcast on Sunday in Caracas.
Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro speaking during his weekly broadcast on Sunday in Caracas. PHOTO: HANDOUT/REUTERS
CARACAS—Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro on Monday signed an order to convene a special assembly to redraft the country’s constitution, the latest in a string of efforts to retain power in the face of mounting protests and civil unrest.
Mr. Maduro called for a vote—though it remained unclear among whom—to elect a so-called constituent assembly, which would in theory become the nation’s highest authority.
The opposition responded by pledging to intensify antigovernment demonstrations. They called on protesters to block roads beginning as early as 6 a.m. Tuesday in rejection of what they said was the leftist leader’s latest attempt to violate democratic order and avoid elections that polls show his ruling Socialist Party would overwhelmingly lose.

“Don’t let yourselves be fooled. This is a fraud, a coup d’état,” said Julio Borges, who leads the country’s congress, the National Assembly.
Mr. Maduro fired back by saying, “I am no Mussolini.”
“We need to transform the state, especially that rotten National Assembly over there,” Mr. Maduro told red-clad supporters at a May Day rally in downtown Caracas, referring to the country’s congress.
Mr. Maduro said a constituent assembly would ease Venezuela’s crippling economic crisis, guarantee peace and beat back what he alleges are efforts to destabilize his administration, without explaining in detail how. “I don’t want a civil war,” he added.
But legal experts said Mr. Maduro’s decision was a last-ditch effort to sideline his rivals who control the National Assembly. While Mr. Maduro has largely neutered the legislature by barring it from passing laws, lawmakers have warned international investors that any deals with the government would be illegal unless approved by congress, curtailing the cash-strapped Maduro administration’s ability to secure credit lines overseas.

“This is an absurd proposal and an element of distraction to try to paralyze the opposition, which is united in the streets mobilizing to get rid of the government,” said Antonio Canova, a law professor at Andrés Bello Catholic University. “Every day it is clearer that we’re in a dictatorship.”
Mr. Maduro’s proposal, the first call for a constituent assembly since his mentor and predecessor, Hugo Chávez, rewrote the constitution in 1999, came as thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets Monday, facing tear gas and National Guard armored vehicles for the fifth straight week to demand an immediate end to the president’s autocratic rule.
At least 29 people have died over a month of clashes between demonstrators and state security forces that are sometimes backed by armed paramilitary gangs, work as the Socialist government’s enforcers and often charge into opponents on motorbikes.
With polls showing that four out of five Venezuelans want Mr. Maduro out of office, all eyes are now on how the constituent assembly is convened. Mr. Maduro, in his speech, promised elections would be held, as they were in 1999 when Mr. Chavez pushed through a new constitution.
But he said he wanted at least half of the assembly to be comprised of the working class, farmers and unionists who have traditionally formed the backbone for the ruling party. Amid a punishing economic crisis marked by chronic shortages of food and medicines, however, even many former supporters of Mr. Maduro are now calling for him to step down, polls show.
After scrapping regional elections last year, Mr. Maduro in recent days has said that he would be open to holding those elections later this year and has called for dialogue with his detractors. But the opposition has said anything short of general elections to vote on the presidency would be insufficient. They have also forgone renewed talks with the government after Vatican-mediated negotiations last year broke down.

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