A viral video released on Tuesday, June 28 shows a Colonel of the Venezuelan National Guard named Vladimir Lugo shouting at and aggressively pushing opposition politician Julio Borges, the president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, the country’s congress, out of a room.
The video immediately went viral not only because National Assembly members are supposed to have congressional immunity from arrest and the harassment of law enforcement agencies, but also because the National Guard is supposed to protect assembly members.
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During the previous afternoon, paramilitary groups supporting dictator Nicolás Maduro attacked the National Assembly building with explosives and other weapons. The National Assembly members remained inside and did not receive any protection from the National Guard.
Borges approached Lugo in order to complain about acts of aggression against female National Assembly members and journalists. Immediately, Lugo interrupted Borges and shouted at him, claiming that his position as the commander of a military unit was more important than Borges’s post as president of the National Assembly. When Borges spoke of his rights, Lugo told him that his “rights end where mine begin”
The following is an English translation of the words exchanged between Lugo and Borges prior to the former’s act of physical aggression:
Borges: The moment you turn on that camera, this becomes a show.
Lugo: Oh, the cameras are a show? Perfect! The cameras are what?
Borges: I am the president of the assembly.
Lugo: I am the commander of the unit. I am the commander of the unit. I would appreciate it if you leave. Yes sir. I would appreciate it if you leave. You can be the president afterwards.
Borges: I don’t care. I can do what I want.
Lugo: Thank you very much. Go! Go! Go!
The National Assembly has been under particular pressure this month. Although Maduro disbanded the National Assembly, which is controlled by the opposition, in a ruthless power grab, its members have continued to organize massive protests and even clash with police and military forces.
Additionally, opposition officials in the National Assembly declared that they are working to set up a parallel government that would act as the legitimate, elected governing body as Maduro tries to hold an illegal constitutional assembly in order to remain in power indefinitely. Like his predecessor Hugo Chávez, Maduro has referred to the opposition’s efforts to curb his power as mere coup attempts.