Armed civilian groups today prevented Venezuelan opposition deputies from entering the National Assembly (parliament), where Venezuela's opposition and self-proclaimed interim President, Juan Guaidó, had called a plenary session for Wednesday.
According to the Spanish agency EFE, groups of civilians, viewed by the opposition and by human rights groups as paramilitary units, attacked the truck carrying the delegation of deputies with sticks and stones.
Juan Guaidó's communication team reported that some elements of the civilian groups even fired on the party.
The deputies were part of a delegation from the Venezuelan opposition that went to the Legislative Palace, headquarters of the National Assembly, to see how the situation was on the ground, before the arrival of the remaining parliamentarians.
At the beginning of the morning, the seat of the parliament was surrounded by elements of the Bolivarian National Guard (militarized police) and riot units of the Bolivarian National Police, a scenario very similar to what was registered on January 5th, a day that was marked by the parallel election of two presidents of the Venezuelan parliament: the opponent Juan Guaidó and Luís Parra.
"Weapons were fired, there are videos, here are the destroyed glass of an armored truck", said in a statement to the media, deputy Carlos Prosperi, after running away from the attackers.
"We denounce the encirclement of parliament before the world," added the deputy, assuring that the opposition would try to hold the plenary session convened for today in an alternative venue, since the opposing forces will continue to "face Venezuela".
Guaidó's team has announced, however, that the plenary session convened for today will take place in El Hatillo, a large suburb of Caracas.
At the same time, in parliament, but in a different room, a session of the National Constituent Assembly will be held, created by the Venezuelan President, Nicolás Maduro.
The second deputy speaker of the parliament, also the opponent Carlos Berrizbeitia, denounced, in turn, that the Venezuelan security forces were accomplices of the groups of civilians and asked the defense minister, Vladimir Padrino, to explain the facts.
According to the opponent, the personnel of the Bolivarian National Guard, the Bolivarian National Police and the military intelligence services (DGCIM) witnessed the attacks by paramilitary units without intervening.
The National Assembly is the only power body that the opposition controls in Venezuela, but its decisions are not followed by Maduro's executive.
On January 5, the Venezuelan parliament had foreseen the election of its new leadership, a vote which should result in the reelection of Guaidó, Maduro's main opponent, as president of the National Assembly.
But the deputy was detained for hours by the police and beaten at the door of the Assembly.
At the same time, in the interior, in plenary, deputies supporting the Venezuelan head of state (Maduro) elected Luís Parra, who also had the support of a minority of opposition parliamentarians suspected of corruption.
That same day, and after being prevented by security forces from entering the National Assembly building, Guaidó, who proclaimed himself Venezuelan interim President in January 2019 and who was recognized by more than 50 countries, was re-elected president of parliament at the premises from the newspaper El Nacional.
Venezuela, a country with about 32 million inhabitants and a significant community of Portuguese and Portuguese descendants, faces a climate of great political instability, a situation that adds to a serious economic and social crisis.
. (tagsToTranslate) portuguese agency