Pipe-wielding government proponents burst into Venezuela’s resistance-controlled congress on Wednesday, claims witnesses, assaulting lawmakers and journalists in the latest scuffle of violence during a political crisis. Hours afterwards by late afternoon, a crowd of approximately 100 people was still attacking the building, blocking people inside, witnesses said.
Abruptly at late morning, several dozen people bolted past the gates with pipes, sticks and stones and went on the offense.
They beat and injured at least three opposition lawmakers who staggered, bloodied and dazed around the assembly’s corridors, witnesses said. Some journalists were also apart of the brunt of it, being attacked and robbed.
The most injured lawmaker, Federico De Grazia, was hit on the head, fell unconscious, and was at length taken by stretcher to an ambulance. His family later said he was out of critical condition and being helped by medical doctors.
Freddy Guevara, the assembly vice president and opposition leader had this to say:
‘This is Venezuela today. Criminals attack the National Assembly, the armed forces are complicit in this madness, but the people and the lawmakers resist and advance.’
Throughout the day, explosions apparently from fireworks were occasionally heard around the congress building.
Downtown Caracas is a traditional stronghold neighborhood for the government and there has been a string of melees there since the opposition thrashed the ruling Socialist Party in December 2015 parliamentary elections.
‘We’re kidnapped,’ said opposition lawmaker William Davila from inside congress where politicians where transmitting events live from their telephones.
In a speech during a military parade for Independence Day, Maduro condemned the ‘strange’ violence in the assembly and asked for an investigation. But he also challenged the opposition to speak out about violence from within its ranks.
During three months of anti-government unrest in which at least 90 people have died, young demonstrators have frequently attacked security forces with stones, homemade mortars and Molotov cocktails, and burned property. They killed one man by dousing him in gasoline and setting him on fire.
‘I want peace for Venezuela,’ Maduro said. ‘I don’t accept violence from anyone.’ Mexico, Colombia and the United Kingdom repudiated today’s events. ‘I condemn the grotesque attack on the Venezuelan assembly,’ tweeted UK ambassador John Saville.
Venezuela’s resistance group is demanding general elections to end socialist rule and answers to the OPEC nation’s cruel economic crisis. The government says its enemies are seeking a savage coup, backed by U.S. support.
Earlier, a Venezuelan police officer who arranged a helicopter onslaught on government buildings in Caracas last week appeared in an internet video swearing to continue fighting.
Police pilot Oscar Perez, who was wearing a military uniform and wool cap, with a Venezuelan flag and rifle behind him said in the video, said
‘Once again we are in Caracas, ready and willing to continue our struggle for the liberation of our country.’
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