Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro went ahead with the country’s planned Constituent Assembly this weekend. The assembly will have absolute power to change the country’s constitution, and Maduro is expected to use the body to remove his rebellious attorney general and strip immunity from the country’s congressmen.
Earlier this morning, two members of Venezuela’s opposition were taken from their homes by Venezuela’s security forces. Armed men took both Leopoldo Lopez and former Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma from their respective homes in the country’s capital of Caracas.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has taken a strong stand against the assembly, declaring that it will mean the end of Venezuela’s democracy. Coombia is joined by the United States, European Union and other Latin American powers, including Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico, all of whom have come out against the election.
Colombia issued a statement on Monday morning, reiterating their grave concerns over the assembly.
“The fact that President Maduro convened a Constituent Assembly without the required consultation to the Venezuelan people via referendum was an infringement of people’s democracy”, said María Ángela Holguín, Colombia’s Chancellor.
Colombia has recalled it’s ambassador, Ricardo Lozano, from Venezuela for an indefinite period of time. However other than recalling the ambassador and issuing a statement, Colombia has declared that it will not pursue other sanctions against its neighbor. Further action could be discussed at a meeting with other Latin American chancellors on August 8th.
“The Chancellor of Peru has summoned several chancellors from the region to discuss Venezuela’s situation, and I will be there on August 8”, Holguín told Colombia’s W Radio.
According to Holguín, however, economic sanctions seem unlikely to be discussed in the meeting.
“With regard to financial and economic sanctions, they cannot be imposed on Venezuela, as we’ve already lost most of the formal commerce that we have with them. We can only continue to insist that Venezuela return to democracy. We are sending a clear message by pulling our ambassador of Colombia to Venezuela from the country. He will remain in Bogotá, and will not return for the immediate future”, said Holguín.
Venezuela’s decision to move ahead with the constituent assembly follows an informal nationwide referendum only weeks earlier in which the Venezuelan people soundly rejected the assembly. However critics point out that President Santos followed the same path, holding a nationwide referendum on the FARC peace accords in late 2016, only to ignore the referendum after the accords were rejected by the Colombian people.