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Venezuelan Opposition, Business Lobby to Boycott Constituent Assembly

Caracas, May 8, 2017 ( – The Venezuelan opposition and the country’s largest business lobby have rejected a government invitation to participate in the process of convoking a national constituent assembly unveiled by the Maduro administration.

Speaking during a press conference on Sunday, Miranda Governor Henrique Capriles condemned the move to rewrite the South American nation’s constitution as “absolutely fraudulent” and revealed that the coalition would boycott the process. 

In particular, the spokesperson for the right-wing opposition coalition, the MUD, lambasted the assembly’s provision that one half of its 500 delegates would be elected among grassroots movements and marginalized constituencies, which he said “doesn’t exist in the constitution”. 

The opposition boycott comes one week after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro invoked his constitutional power to convene a constituent assembly as a solution to the country’s current political deadlock. 

Since April 4, the MUD has exhorted its supporters to take to the streets indefinitely in violent anti-government protests calling for early presidential elections among a medley of other demands. Forty-two people have been killed to date, including 15 deaths attributed to opposition protesters and five people confirmed dead at the hands of authorities. 

The invitation to participate in the constituent assembly was also spurned by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce of Venezuela (FEDECAMERAS).

In a communiqué published over the weekend, the leading business association declared, “it is not the moment to convene a national constituent assembly”.

“Our country requires urgent solutions that can only be the result of consensus and the product of reliable dialogue that will be possible when the constitutional order is restored,” the statement reads.

Despite the rebuff by the MUD and FEDECAMERAS, several smaller opposition parties and business federations have agreed to take part in the constituent process. 

On Saturday, the presidential commission charged with organizing the assembly held a meeting with over 200 business leaders from throughout the country, including members of the National Council of Commerce and Services (CONSECOMERCIO) and the small business federation FEDEINDUSTRIA.

This Monday, the committee reportedly sat down with representatives of 17 smaller opposition political parties, such as Bandera Roja, Juan Bimba, and Opina. 

The presidential commission is chaired by a number of prominent signatories of the 1999 Constitution, including Education Minister Elias Jaua, constitutional lawyer Herman Escarra, and indigenous Wayuu activist Noheli Pocoterra.

Published on May 8th 2017 at 6.49pm