Lawmakers hurt in clashes at Venezuelan National Assembly
(CNN) Armed with pipes, sticks and stones, supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro attacked the country’s National Assembly in Caracas on Wednesday and attacked opposition lawmakers, witnesses said.
The Independence Day clashes in the opposition-controlled chamber were the latest outbreak of violence in a country that has experienced a broad economic crisis and demonstrations on the occasional streets that require a change of government.
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Videos and photos of the scene showed supporters of the government – a little use of handkerchiefs and wearing Venezuelan tricolor – invading the assembly building and the opening of its doors of solid wood.
Inside, the bloodstained floors and the walls act hall because the injured legislators were treated by colleagues.
At least seven lawmakers and five lawmakers were injured, according to National Assembly President Julio Borges.
Journalists inside the Assembly building reported being beaten.
The US State Department issued a statement late Wednesday calling the conflict “an assault on the democratic principles appreciated by the men and women who fought for Venezuela’s independence 206 years ago today.”
The statement calls on the Venezuelan government to “immediately provide for the protection of the National Assembly, to ensure that those wounded in today’s attack can receive medical care and bring those responsible to justice.”
Before concluding a military parade on the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Maduro condemned the violence and said that “strange things always happen with the opposition.” He also ordered an investigation.
“I will never be complicit in any act of violence,” he said. “I want peace for Venezuela. I do not accept the person of violence.”
Despite the violence, lawmakers have pledged to hold a planned meeting to discuss an unofficial plebiscite – a national vote would be a move toward an election to oust Maduro.
Vice President of the National Assembly and opposition leader Freddy Guevara told the official television station Capitolio that he would continue the session as scheduled on Wednesday.
The July 16 plebiscite was asked about the level of confidence in Maduro and seek public opinion in his rewriting of the Venezuelan constitution.
Guevara told CNN en Español that lawmakers Armando Armas and Américo De Grazia were injured during the clash with loyal Maduro.
Lawmakers Nora Brancho, Luis Carlos Padilla and Leonardo Regnault were also injured, according to a Twitter meeting.
Assemblyman Armando Armas, head and white bloody shirt, posted a video on Twitter with the message:
“We were elected to defend the country. Today, July 5, barbarism wants to impose the courtesy before, with the dictatorship!”
“We are going to defend Venezuela at all costs, even with our lives,” he said.
Assault follows continuous agitation
In April, during widespread criticism, the Supreme Court overturned the decision to transfer all the powers of the National Assembly to the court, which is stacked with supporters of the government. The opposition had suddenly called the movement.
The final assault on the National Assembly after several tumultuous days for the troubled nation.
Officer Oscar Perez last week beat a government helicopter with a team of accomplices, flew over the Supreme Court, with grenades, fired shots, and flew over Caracas for about two hours.
No one in the Supreme Court was injured and the army did nothing to intervene – though Perez was flying in sight. Critics of the government said it was a maneuver orchestrated by Maduro to justify the use of a hard hand against demonstrators.
Maduro condemned the attack and denied any involvement.