Venezuela opposition charges congress, swears in leader
CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó pushed through rows of national guardsmen blocking congress to retake his seat on Tuesday, and in a darkened building with no power he pledged to press forward in his bid to topple the country’s socialist president.
The man recognized by the U.S. and over 50 other nations as Venezuela’s rightful president burst through the National Assembly’s wooden doors along with several dozen opposition lawmakers after navigating their way past state security officers wearing helmets and carrying shields.
“We want to regain Venezuela, damn it!” Guaidó said as he pressed through the crowd of guards, lawmakers and journalists.
Once inside, he led opposition lawmakers in boisterously singing the country’s anthem. Shortly thereafter, electricity in the building went out, but legislators continued in the dimly lit assembly, shouting into microphones that did not work to declare Guaidó the president of the only opposition-controlled national institution.
“This is a show of what can happen when we are united,” Guaidó yelled.
The dramatic meeting followed several days of upheaval in which government-backed lawmakers announced they were taking control of the National Assembly. The legislature is the opposition’s lone national platform and remains a thorn in President Nicolás Maduro’s quest to consolidate power.
The fight for control of the legislature comes as the opposition is struggling to regain its momentum, nearly a year after Guaidó declared himself interim president as tens of thousands of Venezuelans took to the street in protest against Maduro.
Internal feuds, corruption scandals and a failed try at dialogue with Maduro’s government have left opposition lawmakers scrambling to find a unified path forward.
The latest brouhaha over the legislature could equip the opposition with new impetus, analysts said, but also gives Maduro an opportunity to make his apparent power-grab look more like another baffling political dispute. Guaidó, 36, has served as leader of the National Assembly for the last year and argues that under the constitution, he is Venezuela’s interim president on grounds that Maduro’s 2018 reelection was not legitimate.
Opposition leader Juan Guaido yells into a megaphone for National Guards to let him and all opposition lawmakers into the National Assembly, outside the legislature in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday.