January 16 (UPI) – Armed members of groups supporting the contested Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro attacked a convoy that transported opposition lawmakers to the National Assembly and prevented them from entering the Legislative Palace.
A video posted on the official Twitter account about the opposition leader and Venezuelan interim president Juan Guaido showed men chasing the vehicle when a man attacked it with a pylon. One sees a man emerge from the crowd before he smashes the rear window of the vehicle and forces the driver to flee.
ALERTA | Paramilitares de la dictadura de Maduro atacan comisión de diputados que se moviliza hacia la Asamblea Nacional.
Denunciamos toma militar y paramilitar del Palacio Legislativo Federal pic.twitter.com/1fdK9f67Xf – National Communication Center (@Presidencia_VE) January 15, 2020
Carlos Eduardo Berrizbeitia, opposition legislator for the National Assembly, described the attackers as members of “armed paramilitaries and terrorist groups” organized by the Maduro regime.
The opposition-controlled assembly, the country’s last democratically organized institution, has become a central point in the political struggle between Maduro and Guaido.
Last week, Maduro tried to designate his own candidate as head of the National Assembly, while security forces prevented the opposition legislature from entering the building and prevented him from voting.
Opposition lawmakers voted for a newspaper nearby and elected Guaido to chair the National Assembly. Days later, opposition lawmakers crowded back into the assembly.
In a statement, the National Assembly announced that lawmakers were hit by a “fence” of more than 200 armed paramilitaries as they approached the Legislative Palace on Wednesday, silence for Oscar Perez, who on January 16, 2018 after a nine-hour struggle with the Government troops were killed.
Guaido described the attack on Wednesday as “brutal ambush”.
“They not only militarily captured the Federal Palace, but also robbed MPs, the free press and teachers. They were brutally attacked,” he said in a statement, adding that they were not only attacked with blunt objects, but also shot were at.
The Venezuelan Foreign Press Association said reporters reporting the attack had encountered “aggression.”
“It is important to emphasize that such attacks have taken place under the eyes of the (Venezuelan) national police,” said the press organization in a statement.
The attack comes when Maduro, the successor to Hugo Chavez, has managed to stay in power since his reelection in 2018, early last year, despite an increasing surge of sanctions and political pressure that the United States put on his government found unlawful and Guaido himself appointed interim president.
The United States is one of more than 55 countries that have spoken out in favor of the Guaido presidency.
On Monday, the U.S. Treasury Department approved seven Venezuelan officials who participated in Maduro’s attempt to use his own National Assembly leader, including Luis Parra, the man selected to head the Legislative Palace.
The Maduro regime condemned the sanctions as “coercive measures” aimed at undermining “the proper functioning of the country’s democratic institutions”.
“These very serious one-sided actions violate international law and endanger the stability, peace and self-determination of the Venezuelan people,” said a statement by the Venezuelan foreign ministry.