Dear Mr. Pritchard (Observer
First of all, article’s
headline is false as even the article itself
reveals. Venezuela’s constituent assembly
(ANC), not President Maduro, took over
various National Assembly functions.
Nowhere does the article
inform readers that the ANC was elected by
Venezuelan voters. The opposition refused to
field candidates for the ANC election, urged
it supporters to boycott the vote, and
resorted to violence, in particular in
opposition strongholds, to
Nowhere does the article
inform readers that the Venezuelan
constitution, which was ratified by voters
in a referendum in 1999, allows for
the election of an ANC.
Articles 347, 348, 349 of the
Venezuelan constitution are shown below this
note. It is clear that the ANC has broad
powers under the constitution above other
elected bodies, including the president.
The dispute over the
constitutionality of the ANC elections that
President Maduro ordered hinges over whether
or not voters had to approve the ANC
election beforehand in a referendum as they
did in 1999.
It is obvious from art. 347
that the ANC would have to be directly
elected by Venezuelan voters – as it was.
It is obvious from art. 348
that the president has the authority to
initiate the process of convening an ANC.
It is not clear that an initiating
referendum is required or even a referendum
on changes it makes to the constitution.
In 1999, Venezuela was in the
process of replacing a constitution that
made no provision at all for an ANC. Maduro
has, despite vagueness of the 1999
constitution on the matter, committed to
holding a referendum on any changes the ANC
proposes to the constitution.
The only thing your article
tells readers is that the opposition and its
staunch supporters in the US government and
other right wing governments in the region,
have declared the ANC illegitimate. The
notion that foreign governments have any
right at all to impose an interpretation of
the constitution on Venezuela is outrageous.
Many readers would see that if you provided
I realize a single article
can’t get into every bit of nuance, but this
article was totally one-sided and
Relevant articles of the Venezuelan
The original constituent power rests with
the people of Venezuela. This power may be
exercised by calling a National Constituent
Assembly for the purpose of transforming the
State, creating a new juridical order and
drawing up a new Constitution.
The initiative for calling a National
Constituent Assembly may emanate from the
President of the Republic sitting with the
Cabinet of Ministers; from the National
Assembly, by a two-thirds vote of its
members; from the Municipal Councils in open
session, by a two-thirds vote of their
members; and from 15% of the voters
registered with the Civil and Electoral
The President of the Republic shall not have
the power to object to the new Constitution.
The existing constituted
authorities shall not be permitted to
obstruct the Constituent Assembly in any
For purposes of the
promulgation of the new Constitution, the
same shall be published in the Official
Gazette of the Republic of Venezuela or in
the Gazette of the Constituent Assembly.