Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro stated that following months of crisis, the constituent assembly is needed to bring peace back to his country. However, his opposition said the new body of lawmakers is a tactic for him to hold onto power. Maduro has been facing violent opposition.
The nation’s police force used tear gas against protesters who tried to reach the Federal Legislative Palace, which is located in the capital city of Caracas.
Reports of the incident said several people were injured. They were wounded when security officers attempted to disband 300 demonstrators and Maduro was faced with violent opposition.
Thousands of pro-government supporters gathered in a large crowd, waved flags, and cheered as new members took office in the Venezuela government. Some members of the crowd carried pictures of early 19th century South American revolutionary Simon Bolivar and the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez. The large pro-government demonstration was not in the same part of the city where the protesters were gassed by the authoritarian government.
The president’s wife and son are some of the members sitting in the assembly for the first time. There are 545 members.
The former Foreign Minister of Venezuela Delcy Rodriguez was sworn in as the nation’s new president. Additionally, she is one of Maduro’s close allies.
Rodriguez stated in her opening statement that the opposition is fascist. The new president then warned the international community from interfering with the election of the new assembly.
The constituent assembly will have the authority to rewrite the constitution for the South American country. Many believe Maduro will use this opportunity to hold on to his leadership power.
Socialist anthems blared as the nation’s newly elected national leaders marched into office. However, The Washington Post reported that critics of Venezuela’s new regime called their victory a strike against the free world.
Members of the opposition against the newly elected assembly condemned the new body as an oligarchy of puppet leaders anointed by the former president. The Washington Post reported that the members of the opposition are largely members of the congress elected in 2015.
The nation’s new political leaders held up pictures of Chavez and Maduro as they entered the legislative palace. Chavez handpicked Maduro as the leader of Venezuela. Rodriguez stated that he became an important man as she was sworn in as the first president of the new assembly.
The Venezuelan state prosecutor’s office stated there is an open investigation into alleged claims that the election council corrupted the voter turnout. There are accusations that the election created a legislative super-body, according to Reuters.
Smartmatic is a voting technology firm that provides voting machines to Venezuela. The firm said the 8.1 million voters reported was inflated by one million. It was not stated how the firm reached this conclusion.
Venezuela President Maduro faces violent opposition as the protests continue.
By John A. Federico
Edited by Jeanette Smith
BBC: Venezuela opens disputed new constituent assembly
The Washington Post: Venezuela ushers in new pro-government chamber as opposition struggles to regroup
Reuters: Venezuela prosecutors open probe into vote manipulation
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