New constituent assembly installed in Venezuela following controversial vote

World Today

The new constituent assembly has been installed in Venezuela, filled with supporters of President Nicolas Maduro.

It’s an alternative to its existing opposition-controlled parliament.

The new body will hold sweeping power over all existing Venezuela institutions.

CGTN’s Stephen Gibbs reports from Caracas.

Critics said it is an end to democracy in Venezuela.  But, its supporters see it as a return to the good old pre-2016 days, when leftists held a majority in parliament.

Venezuela’s constituent assembly is being described as a ‘super body.’ It rules above all other government institutions and can do almost whatever it chooses, as long as it sits. 

The first task of the 545 members was relatively uncomplicated: to elect a leader.

Delcy Rodriguez was chosen as president of the Constituent Assembly; she was recently Venezuela’s foreign minister. She is technically now more powerful than President Nicolas Maduro.  However, he can probably sleep soundly — she’s a diehard loyalist. 

“To the head of the empire, we say and we will repeat as many times as necessary: don’t mess with Venezuela,” Rodriguez said.  “From here, from this powerful chamber surrounded by our liberators, we say, ‘savage and barbarous empire, don’t mess with Venezuela because Venezuela will never faint nor surrender.”

Within hours of the inauguration, opponents of the government were out on the streets again.  

They have been demonstrating for more than four months against the collapse of the economy here and the president’s rule. They say they will stay on the streets as long as it takes. 

Back at the assembly, the celebrations went on. There’s a feeling that a new term has begun here; and one without an end date.

It’s a move that looks set to further isolate the country. The U.S. State Department has described the assembly as “illegitimate “; dozens of countries say they will not recognize its authority; Russia, Bolivia and Cuba are amongst those that support the process.