Venezuela leader: Will use new assembly to go after foes
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.