Socialist gangs loyal to Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro attacked a convoy of opposition lawmakers outside the country’s National Assembly in Caracas on Wednesday, consequently preventing them from entering the building for the second time this month.
The convoy of vehicles came under attack as the lawmakers approached the chamber. Video footage from within one of the cars showed militants chasing the vehicle, throwing stones and hitting it with a traffic cone, shattering the rear window.
Local media also reported sounds of people opening fire. The convoy eventually sped away, followed by several individuals on motorbikes.
Opposition lawmaker Angelo Palmeri said the cars were also hit with metal bars and bats. He blamed the attack on the Venezuelan National Guard for comprising their security.
“This was done while the National Guard watched complacently,” said Palmieri. “I was surprised to find that the National Guard waved us through several checkpoints, then we were surrounded by this mob and I understood why we’d been let through.”
— Asamblea Nacional (@AsambleaVE) January 15, 2020
Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó also blamed the attack on paramilitary’s supported by security services.
“We denounce the ambush against parliamentarians, free press, teachers and the Federal Legislative Palace,” he wrote on Twitter. “The paramilitary groups loyal to this dictatorship, with the complicity of the Armed Forces, brutally the convoy with blunt objects, shots, and detonations.”
The National Assembly is now the only branch of Venezuelan government whose lawmakers were elected in free and fair elections. It is thus controlled by opposition parties, a source of great irritation to Maduro and his socialist allies. Maduro has kept control of the military, preventing Guaidó from governing.
“The parliament is its members,” Guaidó later followed up. “We will continue to operate and insist on using the Palace, as appropriate, to continue with our agenda for our people.”
Denunciamos la emboscada contra los parlamentarios, prensa libre, maestros y el Palacio Federal Legislativo. Los grupos paramilitares de la dictadura, con la complicidad de la Fuerza Armada, atentaron de manera brutal con objetos contundentes, disparos y detonaciones. pic.twitter.com/duT9CRX2Zf
— Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) January 15, 2020
Authorities similarly prevented Guaidó from entering the building this month, allowing socialist lawmaker Luis Parra to hijack the parliament and temporarily elect himself the new National Assembly leader. However, Guaidó and other opposition lawmakers eventually gained access to the chamber and held their own session during which they reelected him as the assembly’s leader. Guaidó holds both that title and interim president simultaneously.
¡ALERTA VENEZUELA! Denunciamos ante el mundo que la GNB toma el Palacio Federal Legislativo e impide acceso de la directiva y diputados de la @AsambleaVE junto al presidente @jguaido.
¡Los #100Diputados electos por Venezuela presionan el piquete para entrar y tomar sus bancas! pic.twitter.com/IRi1gWkjjQ
— Lucila Lehmann (@LucilaLehmann) January 7, 2020
In a separate session held by the parallel legislature known as the “national constituent assembly,” a fraudulent lawmaking body set up by the Maduro regime in 2017 to gain total control over the country, socialist leader Diosdado Cabello praised the militants for “protecting the homeland.”
“I feel proud because this is a group defending these spaces belonging to the Bolivarian Revolution,” Cabello said in reference to the socialist revolution started under Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chavez. “The center of Caracas is territory free of violence. It is now liberated territory.”
Colectivos (collectives) represent an essential part of the regime’s repressive apparatus, employing violence to achieve their objectives. As well as attacking opposition lawmakers, such militias are known for storming church services, harassing and intimidating the press, and demanding total loyalty from impoverished communities in return for food rations and other living essentials.