The events of the past 24 hours have reinforced the European Union’s preoccupation for the fate of democracy in Venezuela, the European Commission said Monday.
“The European Union deeply regrets the violence and unrest during yesterday’s election,” said the spokesperson for the European Commission in a statement, while at the same time expressing condolences and sympathy to the families and friends of all those killed.
In the same vein, US State Department Heather Nauert said in a statement that the United States condemns Sunday’s elections, “which was designed to replace the legitimately elected National Assembly and undermine the Venezuelan people’s right to self-determination.”
Venezuela held elections on Sunday to approve a new government body, the National Constituent Assembly. The National Constituent Assembly is now responsible for rewriting the country’s constitution. The results of that election have been labelled as being “illegitimate,” with various countries saying that they won’t recognize the National Constituent Assembly, whose members support Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, and which is aimed at replacing the National Assembly that is led by the opposition.
Maduro said that while the National Constituent Assembly will be a place for dialogue, the new Assembly will have the power to “deprive the parliamentary immunity of those who should be deprived of it.”
Nauert said that the US, “will take strong and swift actions against the architects of authoritarianism in Venezuela,” including those who participate in the National Constituent Assembly as a result of Sunday’s flawed election.
According to Nauert, “On July 16, millions of Venezuelans overwhelmingly expressed – in a loud and clear voice – their rejection of a National Constituent Assembly designed to weaken democracy in Venezuela. Nearly 234 years to the day after the birth of Simon Bolivar, who fought for the freedom of the people of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has cast aside the voices and aspirations of the Venezuelan people.”
With regard to the current civil unrest, “All sides must refrain from violence,” the EU spokesperson said, adding that, “The European Union condemns the excessive and disproportionate use of force by security forces. The Government of Venezuela has a responsibility to ensure respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression and the right to peacefully demonstrate.”
The EU noted that Venezuela has democratically elected and legitimate institutions whose role is to work together and to find a negotiated solution to the current crisis.
“A Constituent Assembly, elected under doubtful and often violent circumstances cannot be part of the solution. It has increased division and will further de-legitimise Venezuela’s democratically elected institutions,” the spokesperson said.
Venezuela’s President and the government have a special responsibility to restore the spirit of the constitution and to re-establish the trust lost by their attempt to set up divisive parallel institutions, the EU statement continued.
“The fate of democracy in Venezuela is a legitimate concern to all countries in the region, and to Venezuela’s partners across the world. In support of ongoing regional mediation efforts, the European Union will continue to seek urgent relief for the people of Venezuela and promote a political solution to the crisis,” the EU statement concluded.