By Nestor Rojas
HAVANA TIMES – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, was installed his Constituent Assembly today as a plenipotentiary body, amid the rejection of the opposition and a group of countries, to which the Vatican joined reported dpa.
Former Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez, 48, was elected President of the 545-member Assembly. She will be accompanied by veteran politician Aristobulo Isturiz and former Attorney General Isaias Rodriguez as vice presidents.
The leadership slate, proposed by the United Socialist Party leader Diosdado Cabello, was unanimously approved.
The body was constituted as an expression of chavismo, since the opposition did not participate in the July 30 election, which is in the midst of questions about allegations of fraud.
Maduro defied calls for the withdrawal of the Constituent Assembly, including under threat of more sanctions from the United States, and continued with his project, which he said would “regenerate the country’s peace”, battered by opposition protests that are now four months old.
In her acceptance speech, Rodriguez warned that the Constituent Assembly will have a strong response to the “fascist right (opposition) that seeks to overthrow the constitutional and legitimate government” of Maduro and asked her fellow chamber members to find a way to prevent that opposition from ever coming to power in the future.
“They are human rights violators,” she said, accusing the opposition of violence in the protests against the government. “We tell them that if they do not take the path of political action, justice will be imposed and this Constituent Assembly arrived to do justice,” she added.
The former foreign minister was not among the candidates mentioned to assume the presidency, among which were the wife of Maduro, Cilia Flores, and Hector Rodriguez, the head of the pro-government bench in the National Assembly, where the opposition holds a large majority.
Rodriguez, a lawyer with studies in France, served as foreign minister from 2014 until last June, when she ran for a seat in the Constituent Assembly. At the head of Venezuelan diplomacy, it was her role to make official Venezuela’s withdrawal from the Organization of American States (OAS). Her brother, Jorge Rodiguez, a strong backer of Maduro, is the mayor of the municipality that includes the center of Caracas.
The former foreign minister also lashed out at US President Donald Trump, whose government established a series of sanctions against Venezuelan officials as a form of pressure to stop the installation of the Constituent Assembly.
“To the head of the empire we say to him: do not mess with Venezuela and we will repeat it as many times as necessary. From here we say: savage and barbarian empire do not mess with Venezuela, which will never surrender,” she claimed.
In a message to the international community, Delcy warned: “make no mistake about Venezuela”. “The message is clear; Venezuelans will solve our conflict between Venezuelans, without any foreign interference or imperial mandates.”
Several countries warned in recent days that they will not recognize the Constituent Assembly. The Vatican, joined in early Friday asking that its installation to be suspended, while Mercosur’s foreign ministers will meet in Brazil tomorrow to discuss whether to apply measures of punishment on Venezuela.
Rodriguez also denied that there is “hunger or humanitarian crisis” in Venezuela, because “what there is, is a determination to defend the country’s sovereignty.”
With the Constituent Assembly “we have sent a message to the peoples of the world, we tell them that it is possible to govern from the people, we say raise your face and take the political power”, she affirmed.
Rodríguez announced that tomorrow will be the first session of the Constituent Assembly, as it “begins to act in favor of the people.”
The Assembly was installed in the Federal Legislative Palace of Caracas, next to the hall of sessions of the National Assembly (Congress), which has an opposition majority and whose future is unknown.