Venezuela’s Supreme Court voted Monday to reject a motion that would prohibit the nation’s president, Nicolas Maduro, from rewriting its constitution. The decision comes just days after Venezuela’s chief prosecutor, Luisa Ortega Díaz, stood on the steps of the Supreme Court with a copy of the nation’s blue constitution book and defended Venezuela’s current laws. “What’s at play here is the country,” she said, “the integrity of Venezuelans.”
A few weeks earlier, on May 24, Maduro signed a document calling for a “constituent assembly” to draft a new version of Venezuela’s constitution in what he considers to be an effort to bring peace to the nation. The assembly would also have the authority to dissolve public powers and convene general elections—stipulations that could give Maduro undue influence. With voting for the new assembly scheduled for July, many have accused Maduro of giving extra weight to populations that might secure his re-election. The president of Venezuela’s democratically elected congress, Julio Borges, has since called the new assembly “nothing more than an evil announcement meant to divide, distract, and confuse Venezuelans.”
In many ways, Maduro’s bid for a new constitution has further united Venezuela’s opposition groups, who continue to carry out massive demonstrations and demand that the president be recalled from office. In recent months, opposition protestors—angered by the nation’s triple-digit inflation and dire shortages of food and medicine—have clashed with security forces, throwing rocks and jars of feces at officers, only to be met with tear gas and rubber bullets. In the last two months alone, at least 68 people have been killed in anti-government protests, with thousands more injured.