Rhetoric heats up over Venezuela's constituent vote

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-01 13:23:20|Editor: Zhang Dongmiao
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CARACAS, July 31 (Xinhua) -- Venezuela's political crisis appeared to intensify on Monday, a day after an elections for a National Constituent Assembly (ANC) tasked to rewrite the Constitution was held.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro proposed the ANC in May as a way to break the paralyzing power struggle between the country's left-wing and right-wing factions, but the move seems to have fanned hostility even further.

As the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) celebrated the turnout of Sunday's election, the political rhetoric reached fever pitch on both sides.

Jorge Rodriguez, head of the PSUV, said the election saw the kind of "record-setting" numbers not seen since the days of former president Hugo Chavez, the party's founder.

"Chavismo (Spanish for Chavism, meaning the PSUV movement) recovered its record-setting voting. It's true," Rodriguez said at a press conference.

The National Electoral Council announced 8,089,320 Venezuelans, or 41.53 percent of registered voters, took part in Sunday's poll to elect ANC members.

The actual number was higher still, said Rodriguez, because millions more stayed away from the poll, intimidated by the opposition's violent anti-government protests.

Eight million "were there" and another 2 million "were not allowed to vote," according to Rodriguez.

"On July 30, the people spoke in a historic way, in a tremendous way, in an extraordinary way, with the highest participation ever seen in an event of this type in Venezuela's history," he said.

"Yesterday, the people sent a clear message to the whole world and the whole world has to hear this message. If they don't, they will be guilty of profound irresponsibility," he added.

The opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) refused to take part in the ANC, calling it a government tactic to consolidate power.

On Monday, Venezuela's Prosecutor General Luisa Ortega Diaz, a Chavez supporter who has become a vocal critic of the Maduro administration, dismissed the election outright.

The ANC initiative has only "increased the wave of protests, of demonstrations and the actions of the state security forces," she said.

The 545 members of the ANC are to debate and rewrite the constitution to strengthen social protection and communal programs.