Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Venezuela's Constitutional Revisionist Go After Free Speech

from Bloomberg
Venezuela is considering banning messages that promote “hate” and “intolerance” on social media and messenger services, according to Delcy Rodriguez, the president of the country’s all-powerful constituent assembly.

Rodriguez told reporters on Monday that the South American nation is looking to limit messages that fuel bigotry and confrontation between Venezuelans in a so-called anti-hate law, which is currently being debated by the legislative super body, known as the constituyente.

“We’re going to regulate and control because, in recent years, Venezuela has been victim of laboratories of physiological war that, through messages and social medial, promote a fratricidal war between Venezuelans,” Rodriguez said. “We’re not going to allow what happened in Rwanda repeat itself in Venezuela.”

Rodriguez didn’t provide details on how the government plans to monitor social media and on penalties for offenders. The new assembly will meet again tomorrow.

The anti-hate law comes as the government of President Nicolas Maduro has intensified a clampdown on the media, blocking the transmission of Colombian networks Caracol and RCV last week. Like his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, Maduro alleges that private media providers are conspiring with his political foes to undermine his socialist government.

Since April, a wave of protests against Maduro’s government has claimed dozens of lives and left hundreds behind bars. In a bid to consolidate power amid a crippling recession, Maduro installed the consituyente earlier this month with the mandate to rewrite the country’s constitution. The new legislative body has since bypassed the opposition-led congress and has been targeting the last strongholds of dissent in public institutions.

Rodriguez singled out a growing practice among Venezuelan expats of publicly heckling top-ranking government officials on trips outside of the country. The practice, known locally as escrache, is filmed on smart phones and is wildly shared on services like Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp. In one recent escrache video, Caracas Mayor Jorge Rodriguez, who is the brother of the constituyente president, was filmed while being jeered during a trip to Mexico City.

Rodriguez said the practice fuels bloodshed and needed to be curbed.

“It starts by banging pots and pans around chavistas in a restaurant,” she said of supporters of Chavez’s self-styled brand of socialism, “And its finishes by burning chavistas alive.”

Friday, August 18, 2017

Venezuela's New Faux-Representational Assembly!

from Yahoo News
CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's new legislative superbody on Friday gave itself the power to pass laws, superseding the opposition-led congress and fueling criticism by government adversaries that socialist President Nicolas Maduro is consolidating a dictatorship.

In practice, the move does little to change the existing situation. The Socialist-dominated Supreme Court has stripped power from the congress and shot down nearly every law it has approved since it was taken over by the opposition in 2016.

But the decision suggests the constituent assembly, elected in July in a vote boycotted by the opposition, is more interested in limiting the opposition's influence than carrying out its official task of rewriting the nation's constitution.

Delcy Rodriguez, a Maduro ally and president of the constituent assembly, insisted the move did not imply a dissolution of the congress.

"Those lazy bums have to work. What we are doing is telling them 'Gentlemen, we are not going to let you take a holiday,'" Rodriguez said in a reference to opposition legislators.

The assembly had invited leaders of the existing congress to join the session. Congressional leaders did not attend, insisting it was fraudulently created and usurped their powers.

"(Congress) only obeys the constitution and the people. We do not recognize the constituent assembly, much less subordinate ourselves to it," Freddy Guevara, an opposition politician and vice president of the congress, wrote on Twitter.

Maduro pushed for the creation of the constituent assembly on promises it would bring peace to the country after months of violent street protests that have killed more than 125 people.

Critics say the constituent assembly was created to extend the rule of the Socialists, who face anger across the country over chronic food shortages, triple-digit inflation and a severe recession.

Protests have slowed since the July 30 election, partly because opposition leaders are in talks to present candidates for the gubernatorial elections expected in October. Many opposition supporters are also tired and demoralized.

Governments around the world have slammed the creation of the constituent assembly, with many accusing Maduro of seeking to ignore the will of Venezuelans who want a change of government.

The United States has slapped sanctions on top Socialist Party officials, accusing them, among other things, of weakening democracy and violating human rights. Washington has said it will consider sanctions against anyone who participates in the constituent assembly.