National Constituent Assembly
|Constitutional Assembly of Venezuela|
On 30 July 2017 elections to Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly (NCA) took place and 545 NCA members were elected.
US blockades food imports
On 4 September 2017, Vice President of Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly, Aristobulo Isturiz, revealed that the US imposed economic blockade on Venezuela has prevented 18 million boxes of food from reaching the country that is suffering from food shortages. He then went onto highlight that the sanctions affect ordinary Venezuelan people and not the country's leadership, just as US-imposed sanctions on Syria are having the same effect.
Isturiz then revealed that allied countries had to make payment for the food to be reached as the US sanctions prevents Venezuela from making such purchases.
TeleSUR explained that while Venezuela does have a food crisis that has resulted in mass food shortages, the blame is often pinned on the country's socialist government and that government officials accuse right-wing opposition forces and their allies in the private sector and in international finance of intentionally sabotaging the economy.
The same report continued to explain that in 2016, over 750 opposition-controlled offshore companies linked to the Panama Papers scandal were accused of purposely redirecting Venezuelan imports of raw food materials from the government to the private sector. Many of these companies sell their products to private companies in Colombia, which resell them to Venezuelans living close to the border with Colombia.
Opposition lawmakers have said that the NCA is unconstitutional, all decisions it makes will have no legal value and, on 7 August, approved an agreement “not to recognise acts that contradict the constitutional order.” The agreement refused to recognise the NCA and claimed its first actions confirmed it was working on behalf of the “dictatorship.”
Opposition members and representatives recently argued that the NCA would try to dissolve the National Assembly, in clear violation of the Venezuelan Constitution, but commentators have rejected the argument.
In an interview with teleSUR, political researcher Walter Ortiz said that the National Assembly and NCA can coexist from a political, judicial and constitutional basis. Indeed since the NCA was inaugurated, Venezuela’s Parliament has continued to function normally. The coexistence of both assemblies is guaranteed by the agreement approved in the NCA session on 8 August. The agreement outlines how the NCA will work in harmony with constituted public authorities in order contribute to peace, public calm, equality and integrity of all Venezuelans.
Ortiz said that Article 349 of the Constitution establishes that “Constituted power cannot in any way impede the decision of the Constituent Assembly,” meaning failing to recognise any act from the NCA is unconstitutional.
The historian and former NCA candidate Juan Romero told teleSUR in a phone conversation that the statute restricts the power of the National Assembly but does not imply its dissolution. According to Romero, the rule approved by the ANC is inspired by the rule proposed in the Constituent Assembly in 1999 which indicated that the National Assembly will perform the same role as always, as long as it does not affect the decisions from the NCA.
Romero explained that the National Assembly will continue functioning at the level of work reunions and commissions but will not be able to make laws on the economy, policy or security given that this would interfere with the work of the NCA. Romero described opposition claims that the NCA will dissolve the National Assembly as false news which seeks to delegitimise the constitutionality of the Venezuelan state.
For Ortiz, the opposition is using the allegation to rally international support given that internal destabilisation strategies have not worked.
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- "US blockade prevents 18 million boxes of food reaching Venezuela but commentators still blame Bolivarianism"
- "Can Venezuela’s National Assembly and Constituent Assembly Coexist?"