Pro-government thugs attack Venezuela congress; several lawmakers injured

As Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro attended a military parade marking the country's independence day, pro-government militias gathered outside the national assembly building.  Armed with wooden clubs and metal rods, they broke into the building, where lawmakers were in the middle of a ceremony also commemorating Venezuela's independence day.

In full view of national guardsmen who were assigned to protect the building, the mob of Maduro thugs attacked opposition lawmakers, several of whom were injured.  It's just the latest outrage to roil the politics of Venezuela as the beleaguered president seeks to stifle growing opposition protests and prevent a referendum on his presidency from going forward.

CNN:

The Independence Day clashes in the opposition-controlled chamber were the latest outbreak of violence in a country struggling with a deepening economic crisis and sometimes bloody street protests calling for a change of government.

Video and images from the scene showed government supporters – some wearing bandanas and carrying Venezuela's tricolor flag – storming the assembly building and pushing open its massive wooden doors.

Inside, blood stained the floors and walls of the assembly hall as wounded lawmakers were tended to by colleagues.

Opposition lawmaker Americo De Grazia is led away by bodyguards and a National Assembly employee after he was injured by government supporters.

At least seven legislative employees and five lawmakers were injured, according to National Assembly President Julio Borges.

Journalists inside the assembly building said they had also been assaulted.

The US State Department issued a statement Wednesday night calling the clash "an assault on the democratic principles cherished by the men and women who struggled for Venezuela's independence 206 years ago today."

The statement called on the Venezuelan government "to immediately provide for the protection of the National Assembly, ensure those injured in today's attack are able to receive medical attention, and bring the attackers to justice."

Opposition deputy Armando Armas is assisted after being injured by supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Before ending a military parade on the 206th anniversary of the signing of the declaration of independence, Maduro condemned the violence and said "strange facts always occur with the opposition." He also ordered an investigation.

"I will never be complicit to any act of violence," he said. "I want peace for Venezuela. I do not accept violence from anyone."

Of course, no one believes that.  These were militias created by Maduro, funded and armed by his government.  Does anyone really believe they aren't under his control?

Maduro is going ahead with his plan to change the constitution by calling together a "constituent assembly" to rewrite it.  The opposition fear that they will be frozen out of the process and Maduro will alter election rules to guarantee his survival.  Intimidating the opposition into acquiescing to the changes is certainly part of the plan.

But judging by the reaction of opposition lawmakers to the attack, Maduro's bully-boy tactics may have backfired.  They plan to mount an unofficial referendum on Maduro's rule, which they feel will further delegitimize the regime.

But it won't get the country any closer to ridding itself of this incompetent thug.

As Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro attended a military parade marking the country's independence day, pro-government militias gathered outside the national assembly building.  Armed with wooden clubs and metal rods, they broke into the building, where lawmakers were in the middle of a ceremony also commemorating Venezuela's independence day.

In full view of national guardsmen who were assigned to protect the building, the mob of Maduro thugs attacked opposition lawmakers, several of whom were injured.  It's just the latest outrage to roil the politics of Venezuela as the beleaguered president seeks to stifle growing opposition protests and prevent a referendum on his presidency from going forward.

CNN:

The Independence Day clashes in the opposition-controlled chamber were the latest outbreak of violence in a country struggling with a deepening economic crisis and sometimes bloody street protests calling for a change of government.

Video and images from the scene showed government supporters – some wearing bandanas and carrying Venezuela's tricolor flag – storming the assembly building and pushing open its massive wooden doors.

Inside, blood stained the floors and walls of the assembly hall as wounded lawmakers were tended to by colleagues.

Opposition lawmaker Americo De Grazia is led away by bodyguards and a National Assembly employee after he was injured by government supporters.

At least seven legislative employees and five lawmakers were injured, according to National Assembly President Julio Borges.

Journalists inside the assembly building said they had also been assaulted.

The US State Department issued a statement Wednesday night calling the clash "an assault on the democratic principles cherished by the men and women who struggled for Venezuela's independence 206 years ago today."

The statement called on the Venezuelan government "to immediately provide for the protection of the National Assembly, ensure those injured in today's attack are able to receive medical attention, and bring the attackers to justice."

Opposition deputy Armando Armas is assisted after being injured by supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Before ending a military parade on the 206th anniversary of the signing of the declaration of independence, Maduro condemned the violence and said "strange facts always occur with the opposition." He also ordered an investigation.

"I will never be complicit to any act of violence," he said. "I want peace for Venezuela. I do not accept violence from anyone."

Of course, no one believes that.  These were militias created by Maduro, funded and armed by his government.  Does anyone really believe they aren't under his control?

Maduro is going ahead with his plan to change the constitution by calling together a "constituent assembly" to rewrite it.  The opposition fear that they will be frozen out of the process and Maduro will alter election rules to guarantee his survival.  Intimidating the opposition into acquiescing to the changes is certainly part of the plan.

But judging by the reaction of opposition lawmakers to the attack, Maduro's bully-boy tactics may have backfired.  They plan to mount an unofficial referendum on Maduro's rule, which they feel will further delegitimize the regime.

But it won't get the country any closer to ridding itself of this incompetent thug.

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