Venezuela protest Ronaldo Schemidt/Getty Images
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Venezuela’s Freedom Fighters

When President Nicolás Maduro announced plans to elect a constituent assembly to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution, he presented the July 30 vote as a means to restore public confidence in his government. But as the vote nears, and with protests being met by mounting violence, holding the sham election would only make matters worse.

GENEVA – After months of violence and anti-government protests, Venezuela is approaching the political precipice. President Nicolás Maduro’s push toward autocratic rule culminates on July 30, with the planned election of a constituent assembly to rewrite the country’s constitution. And while there is still time to change course, the path back toward democracy is quickly fading from view.

In May, when Maduro announced his plan to establish a constituent assembly, he presented it as a way to restore confidence in his government, which has struggled to recover from economic decline amid collapsing oil prices. But as the vote has drawn closer, it has become clear that Maduro’s intent has always been to consolidate his power, and impose on Venezuela’s 31 million people an authoritarian, pseudo-socialist system. By rigging the vote with handpicked candidates, the president appears willing to use any means to maintain power.