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Venezuela: Chavista Thugs Send Lawmaker to the Operating Room with Bludgeon to the Head

Opposition lawmakers in Venezuela are accusing socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro’s government of using paramilitary gangs to physically assault them, preventing them from protesting the Supreme Court’s attempt last week to usurp legislative authority.

Legislators are using their social media accounts to share photos and videos of attacks by the gangs, known as colectivos and described as unofficial enforcement officers for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).

On Tuesday, a particularly violent encounter between opposition lawmakers and colectivos occurred as the assemblymen made their way to the offices of Tarek William Saab, an attorney granted the title of “People’s Defender” by the Maduro government, to demand his intervention in defense of the assembly.

Chavista thugs attacked legislators Juan Requesens and José Brito with sticks and other blunt items as they protested peacefully in Caracas. Brito, El Nacional reported, suffered a fractured rib and a hypertension episode. Three others suffered lesions to the face and skull.

The assailants bludgeoned Requesens, elected to represent Táchira state, on the forehead, cutting open his brow and causing traumatic contusions on his lips and cheek. Requesens required emergency surgery and 56 stitches to begin the healing process, in a nation suffering an emergency shortage of medical supplies. According to El Nacional, another opposition deputy, Juan Manuel Olivares, conducted the surgery.

Requesens posted photos of his injury on Twitter and a video explaining that the blow had cut his skin to the bone, thus requiring the surgery.

Requesens blames government-linked colectivos for his assault, blames Maduro for the attacks directly, and calls for more protests.

“Despite this, we are here. These blows hurt much less than the ones you, Nicolás Maduro, are delivering to Venezuelans,” he said, urging Venezuelans to continue protesting despite the threat of violence. “I will get out of this, and we will get out of this crisis with a street presence, vocation, and dedication to the people of Venezuela.”

Saab, the object of Requesens’ protest, has issued a statement calling his injuries “lamentable” and an “aggression against human dignity.”

While Requesens is currently limited from activity, he has been posting images of protests in Caracas to his Twitter account where both colectivos and official Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) soldiers are harassing and attacking protesters.

Incidents of violence have multiplied since last Wednesday, when the nation’s Supreme Court, allied with Maduro, issued a ruling decreeing the National Assembly to be in “contempt” of Maduro and asserting that it no longer possessed any government power. The Supreme Court instead appointed itself the nation’s lawmaking body until the legislature agreed to remove three opposition legislators that Maduro claims fraudulently acquired their seats.

Following an international outcry and massive protests, the Supreme Court issued a modification to the ruling asserting that the National Assembly continued to possess lawmaking power and that lawmakers would not lose their legal immunity.

National Assembly leaders nonetheless denounced the ruling as a coup and vowed to begin constitutional proceedings to dismiss the Supreme Court justices currently on the bench.

To prevent this move, lawmakers say GNB and colectivos are preventing them from entering the National Assembly building at all. Various opposition leaders have posted videos of police using tear gas and rubber bullets against elected officials.

National Assembly President Julio Borges told reporters he and many other lawmakers have been prevented from entering the building. Henry Ramos Allup – his predecessor, an opposition leader, and vice president of the Socialist International – posted a video of himself being attacked by police, his face sullied with what appears to be tear gas residue.

Lilian Tintori, the wife of Popular Will opposition party leader Leopoldo López, also accused colectivos of shooting into a crowd of peaceful protesters to disperse the assembly.

Maduro’s regime is facing stern reprimand from the international community for its attempt to nullify the legislature and subsequent acts of violence. On Monday, the Organization of American States (OAS) took one step forward in expelling Venezuela over the violation of the democratic order there, calling the Supreme Court’s ruling “incompatible with democratic practice.”

Venezuela’s representative at the meeting, Samuel Moncada, stormed out in protest, while Maduro accused the OAS of attempting to launch an “inquisition” against the country.

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