Venezuela's National Assembly welcomes 2018 with a new board of directors
Before the Constituent Assembly, the National Assembly (AN) was the center of political work led by opposition parties since 2016, but after the official inauguration of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) on July 2017, the parliament was nullified and reduced to a merely symbolic role.
Although the AN has not managed to restore its functions due to the government's institutional siege; the challenge is to recover its status as an effective representative of an opposition that is increasingly unmotivated and disjointed, especially considering that 2018 is a vital year due to the presidential elections that will take place in December.
After its decisive victory in December 2015, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mesa de Unidad Democrática - MUD) agreed to rotate its directors' committee every January 5th.
In previous years, the Parliament was led by figures of Venezuelan politics, such as deputy Henry Ramos Allup, of Democratic Action Party (Acción Democrática - AD), in 2016; by Julio Borges, of Justice First Party (Primero Justicia - PJ) in 2017. This year the leadership corresponds to Un Nuevo Tiempo party (UNT), which "has not yet decided who will be the new president of the National Assembly", a party spokesman announced to the news agency EFE. Stalin González, Delsa Solórzano, Timoteo Zambrano, and Enrique Márquez are the four candidates for the presidency of the AN in 2018.
The National Assembly that Venezuela democratically chose has been revoked of most of its functions, which the Constituent Assembly has assumed as long as the Parliament maintains an “irreverent” posture.
Since the Constituent, the AN has taken the following actions:
Plebiscite 16J: On July 16, 2017, the AN called for a referendum to legitimize the rejection of the Constituent Assembly convened by the ruling party. More than 7 million people responded to the call and the opposition said that 98 percent of the participants voted against the unconstitutional body that would assume the functions of the National Assembly.
Regional elections: The opposition was clearly divided in the governors' elections on October 15th, 2017, in which the government forced the opposition candidates to take an oath before the Constituent Assembly. "The elected governor of the State of Zulia, Juan Pablo Guanipa, refused to appear before the Constituent Assembly and his position was declared vacant and submitted to a new election in the municipal elections on December 10, where three opposition parties refused to participate", says an article published by El Espectador.
Dialogues with the Government: A series of dialogues between the MUD and the government took place in Dominican Republic, both parties supported by international representatives. During the negotiations with Nicolás Maduro, the release of all political prisoners was a recurring request in the opposition coalition, while the ruling party asked for the acceptance of the National Constituent Assembly.
Now the streets have cooled off, but the rejection of the ANC persists. "The problem of the ANC is that it is a fraud and is against the constitution, those are the two sins that it has, it is the result of fraudulent and unconstitutional consultation, this ANC is a danger, it is above the Supreme Court of Justice (Tribunal Supremo de Justicia). It is above the Executive Power, above the CNE (National Electoral Council), calls elections, passes laws, dismisses officials, ended the rule of law and became a supreme power, it is a sword of Damocles on the public life of Venezuela", declared Vicente Díaz, member of the opposition delegation. Other countries that consider the ANC unconstitutional are Colombia, Mexico, Spain, Peru, Argentina, Costa Rica, Paraguay and Panama.
María Corina Machado, an ex-deputy and opposition political leader, stated on her Twitter account that the National Assembly is currently divided into "two very different positions with divergent strategies: the docility towards the regime, the false dialogue, and the recognition of the National Constituent Assembly [...]”.
Latin American Post | María de los Ángeles Rubio
Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto