Venezuela’s politics are a mess. And now there’s a birther movement.socialmedia2
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MEXICO CITY — The opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, and there are many, have tried one gambit after another to push the socialist leader off his perch.
They have organized old-fashioned shoe-leather protests, mobilizing hundreds of thousands of people into the streets to condemn Maduro for the country’s economic collapse. They won control of congress, organized a recall referendum movement to try to remove him from office, and accused him of orchestrating a self-coup to stay in power.
The latest line of argument: Maduro is not fully Venezuelan, and therefore can’t be president.
This burgeoning birther movement emerged Tuesday as lawmakers debated Maduro’s constitutional right to serve as president, the Associated Press reported. Lawmakers claimed they could show that Maduro is a dual-citizen, with Colombia, and should be ineligible for the highest office in the land. Maduro has not responded to the claims and, so far, no evidence of foreign birth has been presented.
The National Assembly on Tuesday also summoned Maduro to appear before it on Nov. 1 to discuss his “grave violations of the constitution.”
The political outrage in Venezuela, which has been steadily building amid acute shortages of food and medicine and spiraling inflation, intensified this month after electoral officials suspended the recall movement, which had been a painstaking process of organizing and validating signatures over the course of many months. Angry lawmakers voted on Sunday that Maduro had staged a coup to hold power illegally. More protests are planned for this week in Caracas.
Some political analysts doubted that the legislative effort to determine Maduro’s place of birth would result in any type of impeachment trial or that the supreme court, seen as an ally of Maduro, would side against him on constitutional matters.
“The National Assembly has the right to present legal actions before the public prosecutors,” said Oswaldo Ramirez, a senior consultant at De Vengoechea & Associates, a political consultancy. But he added that “probably nobody is going to be held responsible.”
The rumors of Maduro’s place of birth have been around since he took power in 2013, after the death of Hugo Chávez. His opponents have claimed that Maduro, whose mother is Colombian, was born in the Colombian border town of Cucuta.
The AP reported that, in 2013, the head of the electoral council showed on television Maduro’s handwritten birth certificate from the Venezuelan capital of Caracas.
None of the opposition moves have shaken Maduro’s grip on power. On Monday, he met with Pope Francis at the Vatican to discuss the political crisis.
“We continue in victory,” Maduro tweeted as he landed back in Venezuela on Tuesday.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the consulting firm De Vengoechea & Associates.
Mariana Zuñiga in Caracas contributed to this post.