In his latest move to quell violent protests that are sweeping Venezuela, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has issued a decree calling for the establishment of a new national assembly. This decree calls for a new constitutional assembly to draft a new constitution that will better protect the Venezuelan people. In this move, he hopes to increase his popularity and quell unrest across the country.
The Venezuelan opposition is vehemently opposed to this. They see as just simply another move to circumvent the currently opposition-held assembly and the will of the Venezuelan people. Regional elections are currently scheduled for 2017 and a Presidential election is scheduled for 2018. Polls show that 80% of the Venezuelan population are in favor of Maduro stepping down and with the current economic hardships felt by the average Venezuelan, the Socialist party will face a devastating loss in any upcoming elections.
Maduro claims that “This will be a citizen’s assembly made up of workers, the day has come brothers. Don't fail me now. Don't fail (Hugo) Chavez and don't fail your motherland." While he seems to want the international community to see this as a revival of the socialist policies first put in place by his predecessor in 1999, the opposition isn’t buying into it. They see as just an attempt to hang onto power for as long as possible. The leader of the current National Assembly has called this a “giant fraud” and has claimed, as has been shown in the polls, that Venezuelan’s would remove Maduro and many of his allies from power if given the opportunity.
Protests have been continuing almost non-stop for the past 4 weeks and have in many cases turned violent as riot police and National Guard troops have clashed with protestors. Protestors have resorted to throwing Molotov cocktails, stones, and other projectiles only to be met with more tear gas and rubber bullets. Julio Borges, leader of the opposition lead assembly believes that what the Venezuelan people really want is a power change and not a new constitution. He emphasizes this when he says “What the Venezuelan people want isn't to change the constitution but to change Maduro through voting,". He said this at an anti-government protest in Caracas where protesters attempted to force their way into government buildings, only to be pushed back.
What we’ve unfortunately seen over the past couple months is a seriously deteriorating situation across Venezuela. As Maduro attempts to alleviate issues with the economy and handle protests that are sweeping the nation, the issues that plague the country seem to get worse. Venezuela is on the verge of chaos, and a conflict in Venezuela could have effects not just for Venezuela, but for South America and the United States as a whole.