The socialist regime of dictator Nicolás Maduro has begun the swearing-in of the “National Constituent Assembly,” a parallel legislature Maduro created to stifle the opposition-held National Assembly.
On Friday, the members of the new assembly – “elected” in a vote Sunday in which no non-socialist candidates participated and the electoral technology firm responsible for the election claimed the numbers were doctored – carried portraits of late dictator Hugo Chávez and founding father Simón Bolívar towards the National Assembly building. The leaders of the democratically elected National Assembly, a majority of which are opposition members, took Chávez’s portrait down following their victory in the 2015 election.
“On live radio and television, the people with joy and patriotism did not cease to chant the slogan ‘he returned, he returned, he returned,'” according to Venezuela’s state television outlet:
— Cristian Crespo F. (@cristiancrespoj) August 4, 2017
The socialists also appointed Delcy Rodríguez – a former foreign minister known for her outrageous and embarrassing outbursts representing Venezuela at the Organization of American States (OAS) and Mercosur – the president of the new legislative body. During her remarks following her installation as the head of this illegitimate body, Rodríguez asserted, “There is no hunger in Venezuela. There is only will. There is no humanitarian crisis in Venezuela … only love.”
Venezuela currently lacks any supply of 95 percent of the medications the World Health Organization (WHO) lists as necessary for a functioning healthcare system. An estimated 15 percent of Venezuelans rely on eating garbage to survive, while three out of four Venezuelans lost an average of 19 pounds last year due to an inability to procure food supplies. Venezuelans have come to refer to the growing threat of famine in the country as the “Maduro diet.”
The socialist Venezuelan leadership also demanded its supporters convene before the Legislative Palace, the headquarters of the National Assembly, to intimidate protesters from congregating on Friday, despite the fact that public assemblies of any kind were banned nationwide last week.
Maduro has announced that the “National Constituent Assembly” will strip the democratically elected National Assembly of all its power, and will draft a new constitution cementing his status as the head of the country. The opposition leadership of the National Assembly has resisted this change and insisted that they would not leave their seats to the usurping lawmakers.
“Despite the fact that the protection and conservation of this space is tasked to the executive power, according to law, the head of the legislative branch condemned the government for using it to impose ‘the largest illegal fraud committed in modern Venezuelan history,” the National Assembly said of the congressional headquarters in a statement Friday, quoting National Assembly President Julio Borges.
The Assembly accused the government of deploying soldiers to blockade the building and keep lawmakers out, publishing images of the blockading and video of the soldiers storming the building early Friday morning:
Así se violentó el Salón Elíptico, aún perteneciendo al Poder Ejecutivo, para instalar el fraude constituyente. pic.twitter.com/hqWOkzUvQC
— Julio Borges (@JulioBorges) August 4, 2017
— Efecto Cocuyo (@EfectoCocuyo) August 2, 2017
The opposition nonetheless insisted that they would not leave their positions and hand them over to the fraudulent legislative body, calling on protesters to congregate before their headquarters. On Tuesday, opposition lawmaker Freddy Guevara stated plainly on the Assembly floor, “The only way you are getting rid of this Parliament is by killing the 112 representatives who are here”:
Hoy de nuevo. 12m. Todos a la calle pic.twitter.com/Vt1m7jK2HW
— Freddy Guevara (@FreddyGuevaraC) August 4, 2017
Ya comienza la marcha hacia la AN!! Más juntos y unidos que nunca!! Vamos a seguir en las calles hasta recuperar a Venezuela!! pic.twitter.com/T4HF3dzmmF
— Jose Manuel Olivares (@joseolivaresm) August 4, 2017
Members of the National Assembly began posting accusations of police brutality on social media on Friday afternoon, retweeted by the official National Assembly account. Representative Juan Andrés Mejía stated that he had seen “many injured” by rubber bullets and tear gas at peaceful opposition protests upon the arrival of the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB). Videos surfacing on social media show civilians scattering as police fire tear gas:
Represión en Chacaito https://t.co/OwiZGeEn7d
— Carlos Paparoni (@CarlosPaparoni) August 4, 2017