Mérida, 6th January 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV)’s National Assembly majority yesterday voted to re-elect the current holders of the parliament’s top posts, including Diosdado Cabello as assembly president.
The PSUV’s deputies also re-elected socialist lawmakers Dario Vivas and Blanca Eekhout as first and second vice presidents of the assembly. The act opened assembly business for 2014.
Opposition deputies voted against the designations, however they did not put forward their own candidates for the posts.
The leader of the PSUV’s parliamentary bloc, Pedro Carreño, gave a summary of the National Assembly’s performance in 2013. This included passing 64 laws and approving 252 additional credits, 63.5% of which were for social spending.
On 19 November last year the National Assembly (AN) also granted President Nicolas Maduro limited law-making powers for 12 months to fight corruption and economic problems. The AN will continue to legislate as normal in other areas.
Upon assuming the AN presidency for the new period, Diosdado Cabello gave a speech in which he criticised the opposition for not nominating candidates for assembly positions.
“The [Bolivarian] revolution comes out of a proposal to the country, to be debated and voted on. The opposition, as always, didn’t make a proposal to the country…they don’t believe in the institution of the National Assembly,” he said.
Cabello also invited opposition parliamentary leaders to attend today’s meeting between President Nicolas Maduro and the newly elected AN authorities.
However the PSUV leader appeared to reject greater dialogue with the conservative opposition, declaring, “I strongly reject the dialogue of leaderships, I don’t meet with fascists and country-sellers, but with the people in the street”.
The hard tone taken by Cabello towards the opposition comes almost three weeks after Maduro met with opposition mayors and governors, and called for “dialogue” and a “higher state of tolerance” between the different political forces.
Cabello said in his speech that upcoming tasks for the AN include auditing the spending plans of the country’s recently elected mayors. Socialist lawmakers will also support the next phase of Maduro’s Street Government initiative.
During the assembly debate to designate the AN’s top posts, opposition legislator Maria Corina Machado claimed that the National Assembly’s current directive board “has wiped out pluralism, they deny us the right to speak, they manipulate the Judicial Power and they validate aggressions against us”.
The comments were partly related to the outbreak of violence in the assembly last April, which occurred in the context of controversy following Nicolas Maduro’s narrow presidential election victory.
The conservative politician also said that the decisions over whom to postulate for the AN’s directive board ware “made in Havana”.
Eekhout responded to the claims by criticising Machado’s friendly relationship with the United States and former U.S. president George Bush. She also reminded deputies that Machado signed the decree during the short lived coup against Hugo Chavez in 2002 which abolished the constitution and dissolved the National Assembly.
She also recalled that Machado had publicly insulted Hugo Chavez when the former president was giving an assembly address in 2012.
“This shameless deputy…here today tries to talk about disrespect for democracy,” declared Eekhout.
The Rodriguez list
Opposition and pro-government politicians continue to battle to get their message across over the list of opposition leaders’ holiday destinations published by communications minister Delcy Rodriguez last Thursday.
The list showed the foreign flight destinations of 27 opposition figures during the Christmas holidays, in a move meant to highlight the opposition leadership’s elite lifestyle in contrast to their discourse of there being an economic “crisis” in Venezuela.
Chavista politicians have also argued that elected opposition officials “abandoned” their posts over the holidays, allowing problems such as municipal rubbish collection to accumulate.
According to the list, opposition leader Henrique Capriles flew to Aruba (then allegedly to New York), Maria Corina Machado; Frankfurt, Leopoldo Lopez; Miami, Polar food group president Lorenzo Mendoza; Madrid, and opposition journalist Nelson Bocaranda; New York.
“Pres. [Maduro] received New Year with the people…the opposition leadership on luxury foreign holidays,” tweeted Rodriguez upon publishing the list.
Opposition leaders claimed a breach of privacy and argued the government should instead focus on “lists” of problems to be solved this year.