Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro’s deputies of the National Assembly elected as their speaker Luis Parra —who was expelled from his party “Primero Justicia” (PJ-Justice First) for his alleged links to a corruption plot—. Most opposition legislators, including outgoing speaker Juan Guaido, who sought reelection, were not allowed into the session as they were blocked by a Police cordon in the vicinity of the Legislative Palace.
The oldest deputy present in the chamber, Maduro supporter Hector Aguero, presided as temporary chairman of the session before the election of Parra, which the Guaido team labeled as a parliamentarian “coup d’état,” since those who elected him did so “without votes or a quorum.”
But before, in their attempt to take control of the Chamber and start the session, several pro-Maduro deputies and their collaborators tried to tear down the door to the audio control room, which kept the microphones turned off.
Several opposition women deputies prevented this action at first, but later, when the vote of the new directive took place, the Maduro people took control of the room and turned on the microphones and speakers.
Guaido held by the Police
Before the session, expected for months as a new tug-of-war between Government and opposition, several cordons of the Bolivarian National Police (PNB) and the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB, militarized police), prevented access to Parliament with numerous controls for Guaido as well as other deputies who accompanied him.
At those controls they held Guaido—who since last February is recognized by almost 60 countries as interim President of the country —while both the pro-Maduro deputies and a small opposition group, labeled as corrupt by the majority of those who are against the government, were able to enter without problems.
As a surprise and broadcast live on “Venezolana de Television” (VTV-Venezuelan Television Channel), which never broadcasts the session of the NA, the most veteran deputy of Parliament led an express session in which Parra was elected amid a shouting dispute with the opposition deputies who had managed to enter the hall.
Outside, and having passed all the police controls except one, Guaido tried to enter into the chamber, he even climbed a fence to get in, but the authorities prevented him and forcibly evicted him.
Diplomats back Guaido
Minutes later, the opposition leader spoke with the diplomatic corps accredited in the country, who witnessed how the National Guard prevented Guaido and a several dozen deputies from entering the Legislative Palace.
“Thank you,” Guaido told the ambassadors, among them the French representative, Romain Nadal, and the Apostolic Nuncio, Aldo Giordano.
The diplomats were invited by Parliament to witness this Sunday’s session, and they occupied positions in the guest’s balcony early on.
From their seats, the Maduro deputies called them “interventionists” and “Lima Cartel,” in reference to the Lima Group, a coalition of American countries that support Guaido as interim president of Venezuela.
“Parliamentarian coup d’état”
For all these reasons, the opposition described the election of Parra as a “Parliamentarian coup d’état.”
The Justice First coordinator and Guaido’s delegate for Foreign Affairs in Venezuela, Julio Borges, warned in his Twitter account that “the dictatorship without a quorum was installing a new illegal and unconstitutional Board of Directors.”
“They do not represent the Venezuelan people, it is a maneuver to try to impose a group of Maduro accomplices and his regime in the National Assembly,” Borges wrote.
In a similar sense the “Voluntad Popular” (Popular Will) Party expressed itself, to which Guaido belongs, which assured that “without votes or the established quorum, [Maduro’s] PSUV deputies try to swear false directives. This is a Parliamentary coup d’état.”
Parra, expelled from his party
Parra, 41, until December was in the Justice First (PJ), the same party of former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Randonksi and the deputy Julio Borges.
He reached Parliament in 2015 as the main deputy for the state of Yaracuy.
At the end of last November, the Armando.info portal published an investigation that indicated that several opposition deputies, led by Parra, were taking steps to give indulgences to businessmen allegedly linked to the Maduro regime.
According to Armando.info, the group of legislators would have given the Colombian Prosecutor a letter “of good conduct in favor of those responsible for the negotiation on imports for the CLAP (Provisions and Production Local Committees) combos,” the Government subsidized food program reported as corrupt.
The PJ, VP and “Un tiempo Nuevo” (A New Time) organizations announced almost immediately the suspension of the deputies of what has been called the “CLAP Fraction” and requested a new investigation.
So far, the legislative commission has not published the results of the aforementioned investigation, conducted last December.