I’m still fighting a miserable cold, so I’m still not up to par. Here’s a roundup on Venezuela’s news,
El Universal (Venezuela): Pro-gov’t deputies leave the National Assembly. At the inauguration session of the deputies in the National Assembly (AN), the parliamentarians of the ruling party left the headquarters of the Legislature that Congress Speaker Henry Ramos violated the rules of procedure
WSJ: Venezuela Swears In Opposition-Led Assembly. The new National Assembly was installed in Caracas amid rising political tension, as President Nicolás Maduro moved to curtail the body’s influence and block attempts to overhaul the country’s crippled economy.
Rival rallies called in downtown Caracas on Tuesday morning had sparked fears of conflict outside the National Assembly. Those fears were unrealized, as activists from both sides emphasized the need for peace in a country suffering from the world’s second highest murder rate.Inside the assembly, however, the nation’s political polarization found ample expression. Government allies called opposition leaders “murderers” for supporting a wave of deadly antigovernment protests in 2014; in response, opposition supporters chanted: “We are now the majority.” A speech by an opposition leader was interrupted by minor scuffles around the tribune.
In late December the exiting Assembly members approved 13 new Supreme Court judges in what critics said was an attempt to stack the court and prevent the new body from filling vacancies that would have come up this year.Then, just days before the swearing-in, the Supreme Court blocked four newly elected legislators from taking office, three from the opposition and one from Mr. Maduro’s United Socialist Party. The court ruled in favor of a socialist candidate who had challenged the election results in Amazonas State.
The opposition viewed this as part of a bid to chip away at its two-thirds majority, which allows it to propose constitutional changes and remove Supreme Court judges, among other things.
Then on Monday the lame-duck legislators approved a new package of government spending and Mr. Maduro signed a decree that stripped the Assembly of its traditional oversight of the Central Bank, including the ability to remove and appoint directors and receive economic data.
The official party’s deputies were especially incensed by statements made by the head of the opposition sector, Julio Borges, of the First Justice (PJ) party, who said that the first item on the parliamentary agenda would be the passing of an amnesty and national reconciliation law to benefit the close to 100 political prisoners serving time in Venezuelan penitentiaries. According to the pro-government deputies, such a statement has no place in an inaugural session.
At the blogs:
The first day of the New Assembly