New Venezuela body not to ‘annihilate’ opposition: key candidate

Caracas (AFP) – President Nicolas Maduro calls her “the tiger” as a tribute to her fierce loyalty to his socialist government. Delcy Rodriguez, an outspoken ex-foreign minister, would be the dominant figure in the all-powerful assembly being elected Sunday to rewrite the constitution.

The 48-year-old lawyer told AFP the goal of the voting and new assembly is not to “annihilate” the opposition. She said dialogue is “the only path” to end her country’s political crisis, but insisted Maduro’s Socialists — the political heirs of the late firebrand Hugo Chavez — were not considering giving up power.

Q: Why is the new constituent assembly necessary?

Rodriguez: “It’s the only immediate way we have to solve the problems among Venezuelans, to secure peace and end the violence. It is bullets and hate versus ballots. The new constitution will be put to a referendum, and that will give it its legitimacy.”

Q: The opposition says it will usher in a communist dictatorship.

A: “A constituent assembly can’t roll back the rights that are in our constitution. Quite the opposite: this is to make rights more progressive.”

Q: Will there be a witch hunt?

A: “This isn’t about prosecuting people, only crimes. One of the proposals before the constituent assembly is to transfer the right to take criminal action from the prosecutors’ office to the victim.”

Q: Maduro has demanded crimes by the right (the opposition) be investigated.

A: “The right has swapped political action for criminal action. You have never seen the right issuing a condemnation every time a person is lynched or burned alive. On Friday, a woman in Barquisimeto was burned to death for being pro-government. Most of these leaders have parliamentary immunity, but they have taken it as a sort of license to commit crimes. Opposition followers are fed up with the fact that the only call they hear is for criminal action, and I am sure that we are just hours away from having a political majority that is in favor of peace.

Q: Will that majority include sectors from the opposition?

A: Absolutely. The political majority does not seek war.

Q: Will the constituent assembly foster dialogue?

A: When the right wing won a majority in congress in 2015, a fundamental imbalance took place because one of the first things it did was to disavow the Chavez movement. The constituent assembly is gong to repair that imbalance.

– ‘The idea is co-existence’ –

Q: Maduro undertook dialogue with the opposition. Why didn’t it achieve anything?

A: Venezuela’s…

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