Venezuela leader: Will use new assem­bly to go af­ter foes

West Hawaii Today - - Nation & World -

CARACAS, Venezuela — Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro pledged Sat­ur­day evening to go af­ter his po­lit­i­cal foes with the vir­tu­ally un­lim­ited pow­ers of a con­sti­tu­tional assem­bly be­ing elected Sun­day, while Venezuela’s op­po­si­tion made a last-ditch ef­fort to flood streets across the coun­try in de­fi­ance of hun­dreds of thou­sands of sol­diers and po­lice.

In an ad­dress on state-run tele­vi­sion, Maduro made clear he wants the assem­bly to strip op­po­si­tion leg­is­la­tors of their con­sti­tu­tional im­mu­nity from pros­e­cu­tion and jail at least one.

“This lit­tle Hitler has his cell guar­an­teed!” Maduro shouted, us­ing his fre­quent nick­name for Freddy Gue­vara, a hard-line op­po­si­tion leader and one the high­est-pro­file or­ga­niz­ers of four months of protests against the gov­ern­ment.

The op­po­si­tion is boy­cotting Sun­day’s vote, con­tend­ing the elec­tion has been struc­tured to en­sure Maduro’s rul­ing so­cial­ist party con­tin­ues to dom­i­nate. So all 5,500 can­di­dates for the 545 seats in the con­stituent assem­bly are gov­ern­ment sup­port­ers.

The vote’s suc­cess will be mea­sured by turnout, with the op­po­si­tion urg­ing Venezue­lans to stay and the gov­ern­ment en­cour­ag­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion with tac­tics that in­clude threats to state work­ers’ jobs and so­cial ben­e­fits like sub­si­dized food for the poor.

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