Vatican calls for suspension of Venezuela's Constituent Assembly

"This national constituent assembly, convened by President Nicolas Maduro, is hereby formally inaugurated", Rodriguez said at the inauguration, also praising the late President Hugo Chavez, who she referred to as "our eternal commander", as cited by RTE News.

A new assembly packed with allies of unpopular President Nicolas Maduro and with sweeping powers was to begin work on Saturday, August 5, deepening divisions in a crisis-wracked Venezuela.

Ortega said she was blocked from entering her Public Ministry on Saturday morning by government forces who shoved her and impeded her entry using their shields.

From here we say: "savage and barbarian empire do not mess with Venezuela, which will never surrender", she claimed.

In her words, the "violent fascists, who are waging economic war on the people" will face justice.

The legislature building has been the scene of bloody clashes in recent weeks and the installation of the all-powerful assembly will intensify a political struggle that has brought three months of bloody anti-government protests to Venezuela.

Brazil on Friday recommended that Venezuela be suspended from trade bloc Mercosur until it returns to democracy.

Venezuela's newly installed constitutional assembly has voted unanimously to remove chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega and replaced her with a government loyalist.

Venezuela's controversial Constituent Assembly opened Friday despite objections from opposition parties and criticism from the USA, the European Union and the Vatican.

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The Constituent Assembly will have the power to change the country's 1999 constitution.

The Assembly now supersedes an opposition-controlled congress that a pro-Maduro Supreme Court had already stripped of its powers.

Leaders of the opposition urged Venezuelans to fill the streets of the capital on Friday, hoping to provide a strong turnout to show that many people objected to the Assembly.

On Friday evening, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights called on Venezuela to adopt measures for the protection of Ortega Diaz. Meanwhile, food, essentials and medicine are scarce, the decline of the currency is accelerating, inflation is in triple digits, reserves to pay sovereign debt are dwindling, and thousands of Venezuelans are leaving to seek survival in neighboring countries.

Hours earlier, opposition leader Antonio Ledezma returned home to house arrest after his release from prison.

Its 500-plus members, who include Maduro's wife and son, are led by Delcy Rodriguez, Maduro's former foreign minister.

And in a surprise reversal, security forces transferred the Caracas mayor, Antonio Ledezma, from jail to house arrest, just days after they whisked him out of his home in his pajamas in a midnight raid. While the government said that eight million citizens voted in favour of establishing the Constituent Assembly, the company that provided voting machines for the election said the turnout numbers results were tampered with.

At least 40 worldwide leaders had called on Maduro not to launch the new assembly, saying they would not recognize it.

He also accused the United States of "imperialism" after it hit him with direct sanctions and threatened to do the same with all of the assembly's members.

  • Adam Floyd