Venezuelans fight constitutional reform
In a symbolic referendum, seven million Venezuelans have voted against a constitutional reform planned by President Maduro. Maduro wants to have a constitutional assembly convene on July 30 to pass a new constitution which critics warn is aimed at establishing a dictatorship. Europe's media also see the country's democracy in great danger.
Spain must intervene
The referendum was legitimate even if it was only symbolic, El País stresses:
“Important countries like the US, Canada and Mexico have already recognised the vote as legitimate. … Spain, which played a key role in the release of the leader of the opposition Leopoldo López, must also take a stance here. And for the sake of coherence, out of friendship with the Venezuelan people and commitment to democratic values, the Spanish government must demand that Maduro cancel the vote scheduled for July 30. … It must be made clear to him that if he presses ahead his regime will suffer international sanctions.”
Protest from within, pressure from without
El Mundo also calls for Spain to campaign for democracy in Venezuela:
“The situation in Venezuela is grave, with dreadful repression by the regime and paramilitary operations like that in which a woman was murdered for taking part in the referendum. Spain is obliged to take the lead in supporting democracy. We must applaud the Spanish foreign minister for asking his partners in the EU to explore the possibility of imposing sanctions against the leaders of the regime if the assembly is convoked. … Let us hope that the trip by Columbia's President Santos to Cuba yesterday serves to convince Havana to end its support for Maduro. … Pressure from abroad and the Venezuelans' protest must force Caracas to pull back.”
Democracy in its death throes in Venezuela?
The referendum could fuel more violence in the country, Dagens Nyheter fears:
“Democracies used to die a quick death - until the 1990s mostly by coup. Soldiers occupied television stations, the elected leaders were exiled, and everything was over after a couple of hours or days. There are still military coups today, but nowadays democracy often dies a slow death. And instead of generals now it's often the president who wields the murder weapon. ... There is a great risk that violence in Venezuela will spiral out of control. The protests have lasted for months, they're getting more intense, and the regime is responding with increasing brutality. Instead of marking a turning point the referendum could be the death blow for democracy. If Maduro is successful in pushing through his changes, the obituary for Venezuela's democracy can be written.”