About a hundred government supporters stormed into Venezuela's opposition-controlled National Assembly, where they beat up several lawmakers. Witnesses said the confrontation came after an assembly session to mark the country's Independence Day, Wednesday July 5th.
Allegedly military police guarding the site stood by as intruders brandishing sticks and pipes broke through the gate. The government vowed to investigate. About 350 people were besieged for hours, the assembly's speaker said.
Julio Borges said on Twitter that 108 journalists, as well as students and visitors, were among those stuck inside. Borges also named five of the lawmakers injured. Some were taken away for medical treatment.
Venezuela has been shaken by often violent protests in recent months and is in economic crisis.
This does not hurt as much as seeing every day how we are losing our country, deputy Armando Armas told reporters as he got into an ambulance, his head swathed in bloody bandages.
Mercosur members in a joint communiqué strongly rejected violence against the Venezuelan Legislative and called on the government to end immediately all speech and actions that polarize public opinion, and to respect human rights, the rule of the law and government branches. It also reiterated its willingness to help the Venezuelan people find a way out to the current serious situation.
The US state department condemned the violence, calling it an assault on the democratic principles cherished by the men and women who struggled for Venezuela's independence 206 years ago today.
Witnesses said several journalists and two assembly staff were also hurt.
Venezuelan newspaper Tal Cual blamed the attack on militias known as colectivos, and said the group had fired rockets and bangers as they forced their way in. Its report said some of the deputies attacked fell to the ground and were kicked.
Photos and videos circulating on social media showed victims of the assault with bleeding head wounds. At least one, believed to be Deputy Americo De Grazia, was carried out on a stretcher. Journalists at the scene, said reporters were ordered to leave by the attackers, one of whom had a gun.
The violence unfolded while President Nicolás Maduro was giving a speech at a government-planned Independence Day military parade elsewhere in the capital.
Before the intruders rushed the building, Vice-President Tareck El Aissami made an impromptu appearance in the congress with the head of the armed forces, Vladimir Padrino Lopez, and ministers. El Aissami gave a speech urging the president's supporters to come to the legislature to show support for him.
A crowd had been rallying outside the building for several hours before breaking into the grounds.
In a statement via the ministry of communication, the government said it condemns the alleged acts of violence in the gardens of the Federal Legislative Palace.
The national government has ordered the investigation of the aforementioned acts of violence to establish the whole truth, and on that basis, to apply sanctions to those responsible, it said.
Just hours before the scenes at the National Assembly, Venezuela's attorney general was facing suspension for refusing to appear in court.
The charges filed against Luisa Ortega Díaz came after she challenged President Maduro's reform plans.
She says she is being legally pursued for defying the president, but the Supreme Court, which is dominated by government loyalists, says Ms Ortega has committed serious errors.
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Jack,Jul 06th, 2017 - 04:58 pm +3
I would agree with you, but cutting all commercial ties to Venezuela will only affect the poorest of its citizens. They already have trouble getting basic products. A great number of those basic products comes from other countries in the region. Maduro will be unaffected. I bet he has been stockpiling tons of toilet paper lately.
The Venezuelan legislature & Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz need to immediately declare the executive branch and Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) in violation of Article 326 of the Constitution as of the date of the illegal removal of members of the elected opposition party in the legislature.Jul 06th, 2017 - 07:12 pm +3
Any and all laws, directives &/or fiduciary agreements executed by the federal branch, TSJ or military (in violation of Articles 83-85, never Article 350) since that time should be considered null and void.
This includes the call for a new Constitutional Assembly under Article 348 by the President, as he & the Supreme Court are seated in violation of the existing constitution.
Venezuela is on the road to seeing millions die.
It will not be saved by a mortgaging the future to Russia, China or (again) the United States.
The future lies with the people of Venezuela.
You have the resources and talent to feed yourselves and be prosperous, even without oil.
You now have a National legislature that no longer sees having a party every day as their major function.
Wake up before it is too late.
If nothing else, please ask Spain (even or perhaps, especially, on the anniversary of independence) or the Vatican to intercede to deliver the desperately needed medical & food supplies stolen by the government.
Maduro's goons' probably members of his secret police seeing as the regular police just stepped aside and let them in. So the question will be, when is all out civil war going to start? Maduro will not be one of those who gets to die in his bed peacefully at home.Jul 06th, 2017 - 06:19 am +2