Violence erupted at Venezuela’s legislature on Sunday, after crowds of government supporters stormed past security in protest at what they are calling an impeachment attempt against Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro.
Earlier that day, opposition lawmakers signed a document declaring a “rupture” of Venezuela’s constitutional order and accusing Maduro of “abandoning the constitutional functions” of his presidency. The statement, which was released as Maduro touched down in Saudi Arabia for top level oil negotiations, also appeals to the international community to apply “mechanisms to guarantee the Venezuelan people’s rights”.
The opposition-held National Assembly called Sunday’s extraordinary parliamentary session after the National Electoral Council temporarily halted their attempts to proceed with a recall referendum against Maduro due to fraudulent activity in the initial signature collection stage. The suspension unleashed calls for protests from the opposition coalition MUD, which had pegged its hopes for removing Maduro on the referendum.
“If we have to surround Miraflores to make Maduro leave then we will do it,” declared hardline legislator for the rightwing Popular Will party, Freddy Guevara, as he addressed parliament on Sunday.
But the move was immediately met with anger from pro-government supporters, who spontaneously began to gather at the entrance of parliament as news of the session spread. They labeled the opposition’s actions a thinly veiled attempt to stoke conditions for foreign intervention and impeach Maduro during his absence from the country.
— Bloque de la Patria (@BloqueDePatria) October 23, 2016
Government supporters surround the National Assembly
In scenes that have been circulated in social media and press throughout the country, hundreds of government supporters pushed past National Assembly security, yelling, “The people, united, will never be defeated” before making their way to the main chamber.
Although they were eventually convinced to leave peacefully by government legislators, several supporters had to receive medical attention following the altercation with opposition legislators inside.
The popular Chavista journalist Oswaldo Rivero was later treated for a head wound, after a chair was allegedly thrown at him from the upper balcony of the National Assembly.
The Chavista show of force comes just three days before an opposition planned “takeover” of Venezuela and on the heels of a small opposition women’s demonstration in Caracas on Saturday.
In comments on Twitter following Sunday’s events, former opposition presidential candidate and member of the Justice First party, Henrique Capriles Radonski, said the opposition “would not rule out” a retaliatory march on the Miraflores presidential palace this coming Wednesday.
“We will go where we have to go,” he tweeted.
Opposition lawmakers have also convened another extraordinary parliamentary session this coming Tuesday to “begin the process of determining the constitutional situation of the Presidency of the Republic”.
Meanwhile Chavista supporters have called for the defence of the revolution against opposition attempts to unseat the president. They warn that the MUD is attempting to follow in the footsteps of the Brazilian senate, which moved to impeach former president, Dilma Rousseff, and remove her from office earlier this year.
In 2002, political tensions between leftwing and rightwing forces in Venezuela culminated in a short-lived coup against then-president Hugo Chavez, during which the opposition disbanded parliament and annulled the constitution.
— Asamblea Nacional (@AsambleaVE) October 23, 2016
— Luigino Bracci Roa (@lubrio) October 23, 2016
Venezuela’s right wing wants to impeach President Maduro
Social conditions in Venezuela are different from Brazil and Paraguay, where right-wing parliaments have recently ousted progressive presidents
Elias Jaua, a leading figure in the PSUV, called for a rally Tuesday to welcome President Maduro back from his international tour to help ensure a stable oil price. Photo:AVN
Venezuela’s right-wing opposition-led National Assembly said Sunday Ocotber 23, they will move on impeaching President Nicolas Maduro for purportedly ‘violating democracy,’ in the wake of a nixed recall referendum against Maduro.
The National Assembly is currently in noncompliance with a ruling from the country’s Supreme Court, therefore its actions have no legal standing, thus the measure is unlikely to get traction but it marked a further escalation of political tensions, and mirrors the right wing’s “parliamentary coup” against Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff last month.
“It is a political and legal trial against President Nicolas Maduro to see what responsibility he has in the constitutional rupture that has broken democracy, human rights, and the future of the country,” said opposition majority leader Julio Borges during a special congressional session.
In its resolution, the opposition coalition called for international intervention and repeated a series of accusations against President Maduro, including the long-discredited allegation that his Colombian ancestry makes him ineligible to hold office.
Hector Rodriguez, head of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, bloc in the National Assembly, called the actions of the right-wing opposition a “sad circus.”
Speaking to the press, Rodriguez said the opposition, which now claims to be acting in the name of democracy, repeatedly ignored the democratic mandates given to the PSUV throughout the years, openly supporting the 2002 military coup against Maduro’s predecessor, the late President Hugo Chavez.
“They, who don’t abide by any rules of the game, come and talk about democracy today,” said Rodriguez.
The opposition was slow to trigger the recall referendum process, making it virtually impossible for the referendum to occur in 2016. They also submitted a massive amount of irregular signatures during the drive to initiate the process.
“There will be no recall referendum in 2016 because of the errors the Venezuelan opposition committed,” added Rodriguez.
Maduro’s party accuses the opposition of committing fraud in their signature drive and say the coalition is seeking a coup to gain control of Venezuela’s vast crude reserves, the world’s largest.
The government views the opposition call for demonstrations as an effort at destabilization and a precursor to the kind of violent protests seen in 2014 or even another coup attempt.
Rodriguez said the Venezuelan armed forces remained loyal to the constitution and the democratically-elected government.
The PSUV lawmaker said the social conditions in Venezuela were distinct from those in Brazil and Paraguay, where right-wing parliamentarians successfully ousted progressive presidents in recent years.
The opposition coalition has called for a major protest on Wednesday, dubbed “The takeover of Venezuela,” something that is view by many as a direct call to violence.
In Sunday’s raucous session, lawmakers traded barbs, with PSUV politicians showing up in T-shirts adorned with late leader Hugo Chavez’s eyes while opposition congressmen chanted “The people are hungry and want a recall!”
“Today we’re going to hear of everything in the right-wing’s reality show,” said PSUV lawmaker Tania Diaz, who brought a picture of Chavez to the podium.
Elias Jaua, a leading figure in the PSUV, called for a rally Tuesday to welcome President Maduro back from his international tour to help ensure a stable oil price.
In a post on his official Twitter account, Bolivian President Evo Morales express his support for the Socialist government in Venezuela.