Puebla, Mexico, July 13, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro signed a decree Wednesday to incorporate a truth commission into the country’s National Constituent Assembly (ANC).
Maduro said the integration of the commission into the body tasked with revamping Venezuela’s constitution will “work towards … the great process of truth, dialogue, justice and peace”.
First established in April 2016 by Maduro, the commission is mostly aimed at investigating cases of political violence. The commission initially focused on providing aid to victims of a campaign of opposition violence in 2014, which left at least 40 people dead. It has since also been expanded to cover alleged coup attempts against the Maduro administration, along with the 2002 coup that temporarily ousted his predecessor Hugo Chavez.
In incorporating the truth commission to the ANC, the government hopes to address what it has denounced as a climate of impunity with respect to anti-government political violence in the country. Citing the commission’s recently released report showing that only 10 percent of violent crimes between 2007 and 2017 had reportedly been prosecuted, Maduro took aim at Venezuela’s Public Prosecution.
“The Public Prosecution has permitted criminal impunity,” he said, accusing Attorney General Luisa Ortega of refusing to prosecute opposition leaders linked to ongoing anti-government protests that have resulted in over 100 deaths since April.
Among the proposals on the table, are possible changes to the country’s Organic Penal Procedural Code in order to be tougher on violent offenders, particularly those accused of perpetrating political violence.
In May, Maduro announced plans to extend the commission’s mandate, while also floating the idea of incorporating it into the ANC.
Now that Maduro has officially announced the integration of the commission into the ANC, the president has stated the assembly is the best forum for addressing political violence.
“The whole world knows only the ANC can solve the great conflict created by the violent onslaught of … the right-wing,” he said.
Maduro continued, “The constituent assembly is the only solution; only the constituent assembly is [able to create[ true peace in the country.”
Once it’s elected later this month, the ANC will have the power to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution. While Maduro has argued the assembly will help overcome the country’s current political crisis, the opposition has accused the president of using the initiative as an attempted power grab. Some opposition leaders have suggested Maduro may seek to use the assembly to change the 1999 constitution to make it easier for him or his socialist party to win upcoming elections, including a presidential race expected to take place in October 2018.
Maduro moved to dismiss these allegations on Wednesday, stating the ANC won’t fundamentally alter the constitution, but rather institutionalize the social gains of the Bolivarian Revolution over the past 18 years.
“Our constitution will be the same,” he said, according to Globovision.
With additional reporting by Lucas Koerner from Caracas.