Attorney General Rejects Maduro’s Constituent Assembly without a Referendum

Attorney General Luisa Ortega at a press conference. Screenshot

HAVANA TIMES — Venezuelan attorney general, Luisa Ortega, presented a written letter to the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) on Thursday, where she questions a legal ruling that supports the establishment of a Constituent Assembly to amend the Constitution without calling for a referendum, reported dpa.

The attorney general’s action was the sharpest criticism thus far of institutional value that the Constituent Assembly, which President Nicolas Maduro called for in early May in the midst of a wave of protests that began in April.

Ortega has said that she asked the Supreme Court to clarify whether the so-called “participatory and protagonist democracy”, which was the late leader Hugo Chavez’s bulwark to push for the current Constitution, approved in 1999 in a referendum vote, was being overridden.

“They are trying to infringe the progress of human rights via a constituent assembly process where public participation has been reduced to the absolute minimum. This violates the human rights stipulated in the Constitution. Public participation needs to be the same as or greater than it was in 1999, the opposite would be a setback,” she said after handing in her written letter to the TSJ.

On Wednesday, the constitutional chamber of the TSJ issued a ruling where they support the possibility of a Constituent Assembly being summoned without a referendum, which means that the population can’t decide whether they want this process to be put in place or not.

The attorney general quoted Chavez when he said in 1999 that it is the people who should decide whether to call for a summons of any constitutional power.

“We have asked the court to clarify whether the “participatory and the protagonist democracy” has lost its validity or whether representative democracy has been reawakened because it seems like the ruling stipulates that our participatory and protagonist democracy, which the Venezuelan people had to fight for, is being limited,” she explained.

Maduro summoned the Constituent Assembly and then summoned the National Electoral Council (CNE) immediately afterwards, setting elections for this Assembly to take place in late July and two dates, May 31st and today June 1st, for candidates to be registered for the 545 seats in the Constituent Assembly.

A total 181 of these seats will be chosen by pro-government organizations, with unknown electoral rolls.

The TSJ said in its ruling that a popular referendum won’t be necessary for the people to decide whether they want the Constituent Assembly or not.

In 1999, when Chavez put a new Constitution forward, the country first voted about whether they wanted a Constituent Assembly in a referendum, then they voted for members of this assembly in an election and they finally approved the current Constitution in a referendum on December 15th 1999.

By directly implementing Maduro’s Constituent Assembly, without prior consultation, the first referendum has been skipped altogether.

Maduro says he proposed a Constituent Assembly in order to establish peace in the country, in the midst of opposition protests; to push a post-oil economic model forward and to increase sentences for murders and kidnappings.

Maduro also warned that the Constituent Assembly will be plenipotentiary and that it will be able to reformulate any other power, putting the National Assembly (Congress) on target, where the opposition is the majority.

One thought on “Attorney General Rejects Maduro’s Constituent Assembly without a Referendum

  • This is the much vaunted socialism which is actually pursuing Communist objectives, in action. Maduro is a true student of Raul Castro Ruz. Raul Castro recognized that by pinning the Jose Marti Medal on Maduro on the 17th March, 2016, just three days prior to Barack Obama arriving in Cuba.
    Marti would have been sickened, for he was dedicated to freeing the people of Cuba, not to imposing dictatorship and would have hated his memory being abused.
    Maduro seeks the total power and control that Raul Castro so evidently enjoys. In pursuit of holding military control, he has appointed more generals than the US requires. The senior ranks of the Venezuelan military have been made into pawns even holding responsibility for food distribution. It is only if the generals eventually revolt that Maduro can be prevented from becoming a typical ‘Socialismo’ dictator. Down below in the place reserved for dictators, Fidel Castro will be celebrating.

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