The President of Venezuela is looking to rewrite the country’s Constitution and Venezuelans are not happy.
On May 24, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro signed a document that called for a constituent assembly, which would basically create a whole new version of Venezuela’s leading governmental doctrine. The Venezuelan people are in staunch opposition to this change.
While the U.S. Constitution was written well over 200 years ago, Venezuela’s current Constitution has only been in place since 1999. However, the government change put in place under former President Hugo Chavez caused plenty of unrest on its own as it incorporated a clause that bans impeachment of the president.
And now, Venezuelans are still resisting an additional change to their Constitution. A whopping 85% of Venezuelans oppose this change, according to polling company Datanalisis. The poll was given in the days after Maduro made his announcement, and it asked one simple question: Whether or not the people agree or disagree with the following statement — “There is no need to change the current constitution. What the government should do is enforce it,” Reuters reported.
For the past two months, Venezuela has been filled with turmoil and unrest — violent riots have caused law enforcement officials to utilize tear gas and other forms of crowd control that have caused 67 fatalities and thousands of injuries countrywide.
Maduro believes that rewriting the Constitution would unify and bring peace to the nation. His main proposals for change include giving his constitutional assembly the right to dissolve public powers and convene in general elections. This means that Maduro would gain undue influence over every branch of government, as he basically will be given the authority to sway elections in his favor when opposed. Additionally, his opponents are also wary of the new changes as it would secure his re-election.
Unfortunately, despite protests from both the Venezuelan people and the country’s chief prosecutor, Luisa Ortega Diaz, the Supreme Court overruled a motion that prohibits the rewriting of the Constitution. Filed by Ortega Diaz as a way to ensure Maduro doesn’t become too powerful, the Venezuelan Supreme Court has labeled the motion to halt the rewrite as inadmissible, citing lack of sufficient legal grounds.
In response to the court’s decision, angry Venezuelans have set the Supreme Court headquarters on fire. Many protestors were injured as pro-Maduro armed groups attempted to blockade the building.
When explaining the Supreme Court’s decision, Ortega Diaz criticized Maduro’s government, saying, “Those opposed to the [new constitutional] assembly are called traitors, fascists, terrorists. We cannot live in a country like that,” the Atlantic reports.