Venezuela

On July 30, 545 delegates will be elected by the Venezuelan people to a National Constituent Assembly (ANC) proposed by President Nicolas Maduro.

The ANC will discuss proposals to reform the constitution, though any official amendments will have to be put to a referendum.

About 50 people gathered on July 8 at the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) offices in Sydney to celebrate Venezuela’s Independence Day and express support for the Venezuelan people and their government.

It followed a reception of more than 100 guests organised by the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Canberra on July 5, marking the 206th anniversary of Venezuela’s Independence Day.

A “Venezuela-Brazil Solidarity” meeting organised by the Latin America Solidarity Network (LASNET) was held on June 8 in Melbourne.

It brought together a wide array of activists, including members of the Socialist Alliance, Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) and trade unionists.

Since April, the people of Venezuela have been under constant attack from violent protests orchestrated by the right-wing opposition to the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

Venezuela’s government and opposition both claimed millions voted in rival symbolic elections on July 16.

Meanwhile, the US has responded to the opposition vote, with President Donald Trump describing the unofficial referendum as an example of “democracy, freedom, and rule of law” in a White House statement on July 17.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has responded to the latest threats to Venezuela's sovereignty from US President Donald Trump, in which the US leader promised "swift and strong actions" if Venezuela decides to proceed with the July 30 elections for a National Constituent Assembly.

Maduro called Trump's threats "vulgar", TeleSUR English reported. He said: "The process of the constituent assembly is already in the hands of the people who will exercise their right to vote. This is my response, the constituent assembly does not belong to me.

Venezuelans were taken by surprise with the announcement that opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez would serve out his jail term under house arrest. The move is an unprecedented concession that seeks to calm the waters in the lead up to the July 30 Constituent Assembly elections. 

But the conflict in the country is showing it has multiple faces. On July 10, a day after the official election campaign began, a candidate was assassinated in the middle of a campaign event.

Revolutionary activist and sociologist Reinaldo Iturriza has spent many years working with popular movements in Venezuela and writing on the rise of Chavismo as a political movement of the poor. He also served as Minister for the Communes and Social Movements, and then Minister for Culture in President Nicolas Maduro’s cabinet between 2013 and 2016.

Together with activists from a range of grassroots revolutionary organisations and social movements, he is standing as a candidate for the Popular Constituent Platform in the July 30 elections for a Constituent Assembly that will seek to find a political way out of the current turmoil gripping Venezuela through the drafting of a new constitution.

One National Guardsperson was killed and three people set on fire across Venezuela as violent anti-government protests continue. 

In Aragua, National Guard Sergeant Ronny Alberto Parra Araujo died on June 27 of wounds sustained during what the Public Prosecution (MP) described as an “irregular situation” the day before.

Journalist Ramon Camacho has reported that Parra was shot while attempting to prevent looting at the Walio Supermarket in Maracay on the evening on June 26.

The right-wing opposition has put its foot down on the accelerator, it is moving all of its pieces at once, and aims to shatter the balance of forces through a coup. It has made it clear: the opposition has June and July to achieve its objective.

It has declared that, backed by article 350 of the constitution, it does not recognise the government. Nor does it recognise the call for a National Constituent Assembly and it is organising to impede the elections for the assembly going ahead on July 30.

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