The socialist state of Venezuela is fast descending into a full-blown dictatorship. After holding a sham election late last month to create a legislative body staffed with cronies, allies, and family members, President Nicolas Maduro is making sure that his contrived government monopoly consolidates as much power as possible.
On Tuesday, Maduro’s newly-formed “Constitutional Assembly” issued a decree declaring itself superior to all other government institutions, particularly the opposition-held National Assembly.
The decree came “just hours after the assembly delegates took control of a legislative chamber and put up pictures of the late President Hugo Chavez, who installed Venezuela's socialist system,” according to AP.
Members of Maduro’s new assembly attempted to downplay their subversion of democracy by employing the language of peace and harmony.
"We are not threatening anyone," stated assembly vice president Aristobulo Isturiz. "We are looking for ways to coexist."
But to understand the intent of the assembly, one must look to its actions, not its words.
The hive-minded super-body’s unanimous approval of a decree that explicitly forbids opposition lawmakers from challenging any new laws passed by its own members is designed to expunge the National Assembly’s own vote not to recognize laws passed by the super-body.
The tit-for-tat move comes after Saturday’s vote to immediately remove opposition leader Luisa Ortega Diaz from her post as Attorney General.
Since taking power, Maduro has found a way obtain control of both the Supreme Court and the legislature. Maduro’s power grab has been fast and furious, consolidating control of the state at a rate that would make his deceased predecessor, Hugo Chavez, blush.
With the Supreme Court in his back pocket, the state is targeting local districts that have refused to toe the party line.
“The opposition to President Nicolas Maduro also faced another fight Wednesday before the government-stacked Supreme Court, which scheduled a hearing on charges against a Caracas-area opposition mayor,” reports AP. “The judges convicted another mayor Tuesday for failing to move against protesters during four months of political unrest.”
As protesters take to the streets to demand a better future for Venezuela, Maduro is crushing dissent with every tool at his disposal.
When the corrupt judiciary isn’t running its kangaroo courts, Maduro’s security forces are silencing the opposition by extrajudicial means.
Earlier this month, Venezuelan security forces snatched the country’s two most visible opposition leaders, Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma, from their own homes where they lived under house arrest for a number of years. Against the backdrop of months-long protests and state-sanctioned violence, the two men remained relatively quiet, waiting for the right moment to reassert themselves in the public eye.
Hope for the opposition is dimming daily. At this point, it doesn’t look like Maduro is going anywhere anytime soon.