Updated 10:49 AM EDT, Mon, Oct 19, 2020

Venezuela Socialist Seek to Restrain Opposition Gain

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Nicolas Maduro's ruling Socialist party took a step to try to minimize the opposition's win in elections held this month. They installed a new grassroots assembly exactly in the same building as the national parliament.

This could be just symbolic gesture by the government to try to tamper down the enthusiasm and power of the opposition.

Maduro has already said he will not sign an amnesty law giving the jailed activists their freedom. The National Assembly reconvenes on January 5.

"I think this is certainly symbolic and also distractive from the economic woes the majority of Venezuelans are facing. The government may succeed in temporarily shifting the conversation, but a parallel assembly will certainly not alleviate any of the economic problems," said Guillermo Zubillaga, Americas Society/Council of the Americas, Director of Public Policy Programs and head of the AS/COA Venezuela Working Group.

Zubillaga asserts that the opposition won by a wide margin and has a clear margin of solving the current economic issues. I think it will take more than this symbolic effort to minimize the opposition's victory and the economic situation in [the country], he added.

Perhaps a showdown between the government and the opposition is looming. On Tuesday the Socialist government created a new National Communal Parliament, to oversee the country's hodge-podge of communities created by the former president Hugo Chavez. It sits in the same grounds as the National Assembly.

There is a government push within the last couple of days to drive for new appointment to the Supreme Court.

 There is a consensus among Latin America watcher and Venezuela experts in particular that though the appearance of this may be worrying it may not in the end mean a lot.

David Smilde, Venezuela analyst at the Washington Office on Latin America is quoted as saying "Of course the optics of this are alarming [but] I doubt it will seriously impede any functions of the National Assembly."

"I agree with David's view on the optics of this. But, though the National Communal Parliament may not fully impede the National Assembly's function, it can shift the conversation from the economy to politics," said Zubillaga.

Such a shift wouldn't be welcome by the majority of Venezuelan voters, who are coping with a 10% economic contraction, a triple-digit inflation and severe food and medicine shortages. It is preposterous, in my opinion, to be having a legal conversation of this matter after such a clear win by the opposition's and with the immediate problems the country is facing, he stated.

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