Venezuela’s Constituent Assembly: No New Constitution on the Way

ANC President Diosdado Cabello claimed there is not enough time to rewrite the magna carta before the body dissolves itself in December.

diosdado-cabello-3-800x445-1.jpg

Former Communications Minister Ernesto Villegas (L) interviews National Constituent Assembly President Diosdado Cabello (R) on state TV. (VTV)
Former Communications Minister Ernesto Villegas (L) interviews National Constituent Assembly President Diosdado Cabello (R) on state TV. (VTV)

Mérida, September 7, 2020 (venezuelanalysis.com) – National Constituent Assembly (ANC) President Diosdado Cabello has disclosed that the body will not present a new draft constitution.

The announcement came in an interview on state TV on Sunday, in which Cabello alleged that there was not enough time to draw up a new carta magna before the assembly dissolves itself on December 31, nearly three and a half years since it was constituted.

“The ANC won’t present a new constitution. I don’t see it workable to go through the entire procedure in the next two or three months,” he explained.

Cabello’s interview contrasts with his previous statements, as well as recent declarations from the president of the assembly’s constitutional commission, Hermann Escarra, who has repeatedly reported on the progress of the draft constitution.

On July 31, Escarra told reporters that “The draft project of the constitution is elaborated, having concluded the consultation process with different sectors of the country. [The draft] will go to the assembly’s plenary for discussion.”

Amidst the mixed statements, Venezuela’s multiple grassroots pressure groups, which had lobbied the ANC to consider issues such as legalising abortion, same sex marriage and transferring power to the communes in the new constitutional text, are yet to comment.

The 545-member ANC was elected in July 2017 charged with restoring peace to the country following months of opposition-led violent street protests, as well as restructuring the state apparatus and rewriting the constitution.

The ANC also assumed responsibilities from the country’s legislative branch, the National Assembly (AN), in August 2017. The opposition-controlled AN was declared “void” and in contempt of court in 2016 after a standoff with the country’s Supreme Court concerning the incorporation of deputies under investigation for electoral fraud.

Since, the Chavista-controlled ANC has approved 12 laws, issued 63 decrees and debated 56 agreements, including the Law of Workers’ Councils, the Anti-Hate Crime Law, tax reforms, the Constitutional Law of the Local Food Production and Provision Committees (CLAP) and the Law of Foreign Investment. With AN elections scheduled for December 6 this year, and more than 14,000 candidates already signed up from government, opposition, and ‘alternative’ leftwing parties, the ANC recently declared that it plans to dissolve itself on December 31.

Cabello ‘75 percent’ recovered from COVID-19

During the interview, the ANC president, who leads the ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV) list for the upcoming parliamentary election, confirmed that he is “75 percent” recovered from COVID-19 after a third successive PCR test turned out negative. He went on to describe the virus as “a terrible experience” and that he had considered “withdrawing from politics” entirely.

High-profile ministers Tareck El Aissami and Jorge Rodriguez, as well as host of local political leaders, have likewise announced that they have recovered from the virus.

Venezuela has seen an upsurge in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, with 1,111 infections and eight deaths confirmed on Sunday, bringing the total to 428 deaths and 53,289 cases, of which 80 percent have recovered. The Caribbean country continues to report significantly fewer cases than its neighbours.

covid_7_sept.jpg

Venezuela’s COVID-19 cases. (Covid19info.live)
Venezuela’s COVID-19 cases. (Covid19info.live)

On Sunday, President Nicolas Maduro also offered more details concerning plans to roll out Russian, Cuban and Chinese vaccines in the country, claiming that contracts have been signed. According to Maduro, the week-on-week-off model of national lockdown, in which a range of non-priority shops and workplaces are allowed to open every two weeks, will remain in place until a vaccine is applied.

Government authorities also unveiled a joint Cuban-Venezuelan molecular biology laboratory in the Jose Gregorio Hernandez National Medical Genetics Centre in Miranda State over the weekend. The centre will reportedly “contribute to increasing the diagnoses and halting the spread of the coronavirus” through the processing of 1000 PCR tests a day.

Plans to reopen schools for the 2020-21 academic year with mixed in-person and virtual classes have, however, been suspended, after public and private schooling networks, as well as teaching unions and federations, voiced concern about a lack of local sanitary conditions, equipment, and materials. Venezuela’s Education Minister, Aristobulo Isturiz, has extended the grassroots consultation period until a solution is found.