Only days after a viral video caught him aggressively pushing a high-standing congressman, Colonel Vladimir Lugo Armas received Venezuela’s highest presidential honor Thursday, June 30 from dictator Nicolás Maduro himself.
Lugo received the Cross of the Bolivarian National Guard and the Cross of the Presidential Guard for his service in providing security to the country’s Legislative Palace where, just two days earlier, he had shoved President of the National Assembly and member of the opposition Julio Borges.
The regime held the event in the Military Academy Theater in the capital of Caracas, and broadcast it on a state-run television channel.
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The video that circulated this week showed Borges confronting Lugo about his aggressive behavior toward female members of the National Assembly and journalists. The two men began arguing, with Lugo claiming that this role as commander of the military held more importance than Borges’ presidency in the National Assembly. He then pushed Borges out of the room.
Members of the opposition claimed Lugo violated the congressional immunity that National Assembly members possess from arrest and other influence of law enforcement. Additionally, they questioned why Lugo and his army would treat Borges that way if they were supposed to be there protecting them.
The incident took place a day after paramilitary groups attacked the Legislative Palace with explosives in response to the delivery of sealed boxes from the National Electoral Council. Because Maduro is trying to rewrite the constitution through a Constituent Assembly and the opposition is trying to establish a parallel government, the groups demanded to see what the boxes contained.
Many members of the National Assembly were forced to remain inside the building until 11 p.m., and reportedly received little to no protection from the military during that time.
Borges said the paramilitary attack as well as the shove he received from Lugo further demonstrated that the colonel was taking orders from Maduro and his regime. The decoration Lugo received Thursday more than suggests Borges may be on to something.