Venezuela: HRF condemns Maduro’s takeover of National Assembly’s legislative powers

NEW YORK/CARACAS – The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) has strongly condemned the decree issued by the regime-controlled Venezuelan Constituent Assembly that allows it to take over the legislative powers of the democratically-elected National Assembly.

The Constituent Assembly’s new “constitutional” decree, issued on August 18, lets the body assume legislative powers to “preserve the peace and institutions within the country,” effectively dissolving the National Assembly.

HRF has called on President Nicolás Maduro’s regime to back down from this second illegal attempt to usurp the country’s legislative power. The Maduro-controlled, all-powerful Constituent Assembly was elected in a July 30 vote that was boycotted by the union of opposition parties and considered fraudulent by the international community.

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“We’re not surprised. Virtually every democratic country and international organization in the world called for a boycott of the sham, Soviet-style election on July 30, because we knew the Constituent Assembly’s first move would be to fire the country’s democratically-elected representatives,” said HRF Chairman Garry Kasparov.

“Today, the Constituent Assembly is putting that plan into action: it has formally taken control of all law-making in Venezuela. But the democratically-elected legislators are not having it, and have convened anyway.

“The Maduro regime will have to send the military to arrest the National Assembly members if it wants them to disband. In the meantime, the international community must stand with them, denounce Maduro’s actions, and pressure the regime to facilitate a democratic transition in Venezuela,” Kasparov concluded.

On December 6, 2015, in the context of a deepening humanitarian crisis, Venezuelans elected 167 representatives to the National Assembly in an electoral process with the highest voter turnout since Maduro succeeded former leader Hugo Chávez in 2013. The country’s opposition won a supermajority of the legislative body, claiming 112 seats. Since then, the Maduro administration has worked to undermine the National Assembly’s ability legislate by instructing the regime-controlled Supreme Court to vacate all of its decisions.

The Constitutional Assembly decree is this year’s second attempt by the regime to effectively shut down the National Assembly and take over its powers. In March, Venezuela’s regime-controlled Supreme Court illegally granted itself all legislative powers. The decision of the court came one day after a special Organization of American States meeting that assessed the country’s eroding democracy and ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Following widespread condemnation across the world, Maduro backed down and instructed the Supreme Court to reverse its ruling. Despite the international attention and condemnation, the Supreme Court went ahead to support Maduro’s new plan to create a Constituent Assembly, an all-powerful body with the ability to rewrite the constitution, in order to achieve the same end: taking power away from the Venezuelan people.

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.