Venezuela’s leader consolidates power with new constitution

For four years, Venezuela’s autocratic leader Nicolas Maduro has controlled the country’s affairs and written himself a new destiny as an international pariah.

Venezuela is undergoing a deep economic crisis, with hyperinflation threatening to eclipse the 727 percent jump in value of the bolivar last year. Protesters in the street have died in rising numbers under Maduro’s regime.

Skeptics, who have found little to like about Maduro’s hard-left policies, especially during the recently ended six-month session of the Constituent Assembly, expected further consolidation. The assembly is the Venezuelan president’s newest constitutional alter ego, which he has called the “people’s justice”, and its only function is to reshape the constitution by ensuring that the “people” hold greater sway over Venezuela’s political landscape.

At this stage, the assembly has enshrined Maduro as the head of state, and to further broaden his power. But there are major opponents within the ruling PSUV party – enough to foster dissent within the party over its imminent victories. There is no single clear successor in the party, and the ruling stalwarts of the state-run oil company, PDVSA, make up a majority of the government-aligned loyalists currently in office.

On Friday, the same day that the Supreme Court made the decision to annul the opposition-controlled National Assembly, Maduro announced that he would also seek to create a new “people’s power” that will curb those from outside, such as the opposition, and new “democratic institutions.” In Maduro’s words, “the constitution will be given a new address, in another name.”

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