Regional diplomats reject Venezuela’s assembly

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The latest on Venezuela’s political crisis (all times local):

6:55 p.m.

Foreign ministers from 17 Western Hemisphere nations are condemning Venezuela’s new constitutional assembly, saying their governments will refuse to recognize the all-powerful body.

The statement came Tuesday evening after the Venezuelan assembly declared itself superior to all other branches of government.

The top diplomats met in Peru’s capital to discuss Venezuela’s political upheaval. They expressed support for renewed negotiations between the government and opposition, though previous talks have failed.

The ministers represented Mexico, Canada, Argentina and other regional nations. But while many Latin American nations have denouncing embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s recent moves to consolidate power, the region has found it tricky to formulate a collective response.

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5:10 p.m.

Venezuela’s new constitutional assembly has passed a decree declaring itself superior to all other branches of government.

The order passed Tuesday bars the opposition-controlled National Assembly and other agencies from taking any action that would interfere with the laws passed by the pro-government super-body.

Embattled President Nicolas Maduro convoked the constitutional assembly in what he says is an attempt to resolve the nation’s political standoff but opposition leaders contend it is a power grab.

Opposition leaders and a growing list of foreign government have refused to recognize the new assembly.

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3:50 p.m.

As Venezuela descends into political chaos, a prominent opposition leader is taking umbrage over soccer great Diego Maradona’s defense of President Nicolas Maduro’s embattled government.

Former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles offers in an interview with Argentina’s Radio Mitre to “personally” pick Maradona up at the airport and take him to meet “the common man” in Venezuela, which is suffering from shortages, spiraling inflation and sky-high homicide rates.

But in a dig at the retired Argentine star’s lavish lifestyle, Capriles said he would surely prefer the comforts of a five-star hotel and the presidential palace.

Maradona is currently coach of the United Arab Emirates soccer club Al-Fujairah. He was a staunch backer and friend of now-deceased presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Fidel Castro of Cuba.

On Monday, Maradona made a post on Facebook saying “We are Chavistas to the death.”

He wrote in Spanish that if Maduro were to order it, he would…

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