Venezuela: Chavismo Seizes Parliament and Appoints New Leadership, Toppling Guaidó

Luis Parra was sworn in as president of the National Assembly with the votes from the Chavista party, more than twenty votes from supposed independent opponents, and some dissidents

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A group of the Bolivarian National Police (PNB) of Venezuela prevented Juan Guaidó, president of the National Assembly, from entering the parliament on Sunday, where he was to be re-elected as its leader. EFE/ Miguel Gutiérrez

Venezuelan opposition legislators were persecuted, harassed, and stopped from reaching the parliament for the appointment of the Assembly Directorial Board for 2020. Further, Chavismo illegally swore in, without a quorum and without the presence of the Assembly Directorial Board members headed by Juan Guaidó, a new Board presided over by legislator Luis Parra, who was recently involved in a corruption scandal.

On January 5, the Directorial Board of the Venezuelan National Assembly was supposed to be renewed, and the unanimous expectation of the main opposition parties was the ratification, in session, of Juan Guaidó as president of the parliament and, consequently, of the interim government. However, the security forces of Nicolás Maduro’s regime hindered the attendance of the deputies. While Guaidó was trying to get into the Assembly, the legislative branch was hijacked.

Parra was sworn in as president of the National Assembly. He got votes from the Chavista members who were recently reincorporated in the Assembly after they left it in 2017. More than 20 supposedly independent opposition members, as well as a few dissenters, also supported Parra. His election was illegal: there was neither the necessary quorum nor was the 2019 Assembly Directorial Board present.

Luis Parra is the legislator who, just over a month ago, was involved in a corruption scandal uncovered by journalist Patricia Poleo and the media outlet Armando.info. According to the investigation, Parra coordinated with other legislators the formation of a group of parliamentarians to favor business owners who have benefited from the Nicolás Maduro regime.

Regarding this incident, which has been denounced as a coup d’Eat, Guaidó assured that Venezuela does not have a parliament or an Assembly Directorial Board in place. “There was no quorum, no vote. We already know how the dictatorship operates,” he told the media. He also announced that the Assembly would meet at the headquarters of the newspaper El Nacional to appoint the new Directorial Board.

Venezuelan diplomat Diego Arria told the PanAm Post that the international community will not recognize the illegal Assembly Directorial Board and would instead choose to continue considering Guaidó as interim president and, if his position in the legislature is ratified, as president of the parliament.

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