Karl Marx’s famous phrase holds that history repeats itself, “the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.”1 The phrase seems apt for the two Constituent Assemblies in Venezuela over the past twenty years: Hugo Chávez’s in 1999 and Nicolas Maduro’s in 2017. While constitution-making moments are sometimes romanticized as the high point of democratic constitutionalism, in Venezuela each of these two assemblies has helped—in first a tragic and then a farcical way—to construct or deepen Venezuela’s slide toward authoritarianism. In 1999, Hugo Chávez rapidly rewrote...
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