Venezuela has announced that protests will be banned leading to the July 30th vote for a special constituent assembly.
There have been multiple deadly protests across the country against the current government. The ban is a direct challenge to the opposition.
In March 2017, Venezuela’s Supreme Court took over legislative powers from the National Assembly. The opposition called it a coup. The president, Nicolás Maduro Moros, announced that he wants to re-write the country’s constitution. He has called a vote on July 30, 2017, to create a super-legislature known as a Constituent Assembly.
Despite having world's largest proven oil deposits, many Venezuelans live in abject poverty. The country’s economy deteriorated since 2013 due to a rise in inflation and shortage of basic goods. Protests in the country have been frequent since 2014 and have exponentially increased this year. This has resulted in in violent clashes between armed forces and the protestors. During the most recent spurt of violence, over 100 were killed.
The opposition led by politician, Julio Borges has called this vote a blow to democracy. Earlier this month, it had arranged for an unofficial referendum across the country. Over 7.2 million Venezuelans voted against the government’s plans to create this assembly.
The Constituent Assembly will be a law-making body. It will comprise of 545 seats and will have the power to re-write the country’s 1999 constitution. Critics note that this will provide Maduro’s government with unprecedented power but the president has stated that this will restore law and order to the nation.
According to the government, all protests will be banned until August 2nd. It remains to be seen if the opposition, which has called for nation-wide demonstrations will heed the warning.
Venezuela is in the midst of one of its worst economic crises. There is shortage of food, overcrowding in hospitals and doctors are running out of medicines to treat patients. United States has imposed sanctions on 13 officials from the country and has ordered the evacuation of families in the American Embassy.
Our assessment is that this election is unlikely to solve the many problems faced by the citizens of the nation. The unofficial referendum proved that the government may not have the mandate to implement far-reaching changes to the country’s constitution. And as violence grows, the only ones left suffering are the citizens of the nation.