Venezuela: ANC Vice-President Ousted amid Controversy over Economic Inaction

The second vice-president of Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly (ANC) was removed after he criticized the body’s inaction in the face of the country’s deepening economic crisis.

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Isaias Rodriguez
National Constituent Assembly Second Vice-President Isaias Rodriguez was removed from his post Friday after penning an op-ed criticizing the body’s inaction on the economic front. (Archive)
By Lucas Koerner
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Caracas, October 31, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The second vice-president of Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly (ANC) has been removed after he publicly critized the body’s inaction in the face of the country’s deepening economic crisis.

On October 23, former Attorney General Isaías Rodriguez penned an op-ed in Venezuela’s center-left newspaper Últimas Noticias in which he warned Chavismo could lose next year’s presidential elections, “if the government and the National Constituent Assembly do not offer timely responses to this problem [of inflation].”

“We defeated the opposition’s virtual reality but we refuse to reflect on our own… the prices have shot up uncontrollably,” he wrote, referring to the dramatic devaluation of Venezuela’s currency following Chavismo’s surprise October 15 regional election win.

The bolivar lost nearly a third of its black market value in 10 days following the vote, falling from 31,109 bolivars per dollar on election day to 42,144 on October 25.  

Shortly following the publication of the article, the ANC vice-president came under fire from fellow ANC member Pedro Carreño, who accused Rodriguez of “treason". 

“The Empire is attacking us with force and fury so that it is said that the National Constituent Assembly is a failure,” he said during an interview on Venezuelan state television on October 26.

“Careful that we don’t fall for this trap, I say to the Venezuelan people and to some ANC members like Second Vice-President Isaias Rodriguez, who I’ve heard with this [criticism]. If they do this in a deliberate manner, it’s treason against the homeland.”

The next day, Rodriguez was relieved of his post and replaced with former United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) legislator Elvis Amoroso.

Rodriguez's removal was met with deep criticism by Venezuelan social movements, who took to social media to express their anger. #LessCarreñosMoreIsaias became a trending hashtag on Twitter.

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#LessCarreñosMoreIsaias was a trending hashtag on social media. (ChavismoBravio/Twitter)
#LessCarreñosMoreIsaias was a trending hashtag on social media. (ChavismoBravio/Twitter)

Following his dismissal, Rodriguez released a public letter in which he claimed that the decision was taken at the request of the Italian Foreign Ministry, which reportedly complained that he could not continue to simultaneously occupy both his ANC post and his position as Venezuelan ambassador to Italy.

Rodriguez is not, however, the only ANC member who has criticized the body’s inertia in the economic arena.

Speaking on Union Radio on Monday, ANC representative for pensioners David Paravisini claimed that the leadership of the body “resists incorporating the economic issue into the agenda of the plenary discussions”.

“There is pressure from certain sectors of the PSUV who I imagine don’t want this [economic] issue to be opened because it terrifies them,” the engineer and university professor added.

Nonetheless, Paravisini confirmed that the different commissions of the ANC are actively debating the eight laws for addressing the economic crisis proposed by President Nicolas Maduro in September.

Another critical voice is independent pollster and ANC member Oscar Schemel, who regards the economic question as the body’s “great debt” to the Venezuelan people, which he says is finally being “taken seriously”.

“The economy has always been an absent debate [and] I think this is the first time that the debate over a new economic model – a real debate – is being taken seriously,” he told Panorama on Monday.

The ANC was elected on July 30 with a mandate to resolve the country’s political impasse and severe economic crisis.

Under the constitution, the body has the authority to not only redraft Venezuela’s 1999 magna carta but also to supervise all other established branches of government.