With the government and opposition currently engaged in a dialogue process, National Constituent Assembly (ANC) member Julio Escalona stresses that a referendum to approve or reject the new draft for the constitution is the only “way forward.” Escalona has often struck a (self-)critical tone with regard to the performance of the ANC. Having managed to secure peace when elected after months of violent right wing street violence, the body has fallen short of other goals such as addressing the economic crisis, while any progress in drafting a new magna carta is unknown.
Having prevented Trump’s military intervention in our homeland can be considered a success for President Maduro. A political, diplomatic and military success. For Trump and his team of war criminals, for the [Venezuelan] government to have reached a process of dialogue [with the opposition] when they were sure it would have been overthrown by now, no matter what the [local] megaphone  said, is a bitter pill to swallow.
Knowing the repeated positions of the megaphone, I dare say that he will bring topics to the table [of the current Norway-mediated dialogue process in Barbados] such as the existence of the communes, the exclusion of any reference to socialism in official texts which bind the state to the socialist character of the transformations that the Bolivarian government is trying to undertake. He may even raise, as a preliminary matter, the dissolution of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC).
The opposition decided voluntarily not to participate in the [July 30, 2017] elections to elect the members of the ANC. On the contrary, a boycott was proposed. Those elections were legitimized by a widespread popular turnout, with people crossing rivers and barricades that violently tried to sabotage popular mobilization in order to vote. Thousands of people risked their lives to defend their right to a Constituent Assembly, and there it is: debating the drafting of a new constitution for the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
I believe that the constitutional way forward includes the mandatory holding of a consultative referendum for the people to approve or reject the new constitutional text. The Barbados dialogue workgroup has no mandate to shut down an institution elected by the people [before this happens].
Article 347 of the Constitutional is clear and conclusive when it says:
The original constituent power rests with the people of Venezuela. This power may be exercised by calling a National Constituent Assembly for the purpose of transforming the State, creating a new juridical order and drawing up a new Constitution.
This is reinforced by article 5, which, as I understand it, does not grant the ANC the power to self-dissolve without meeting these objectives.
Article 348 explains who are the actors who can summon the ANC. Nowhere does it talk about calling a consultative referendum [for convening the body], as some political sectors claimed. President Maduro has complied with constitutional procedures. The opposition is now left with the option to vote against the new constitutional text.
 A reference to self-declared “Interim President” Juan Guaido.
Julio Escalona is a deputy of the National Constituent Assembly, a high-ranking member of the ruling United Socialist Party and an ex-guerrilla fighter.
Translated by Paul Dobson for Venezuelanalysis.com.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Venezuelanalysis editorial staff.