Speaking to the press outside Venezuela’s parliament, Henry Ramos Allup, Speaker of the National Assembly, accused Nicolás Maduro’s government of “taking all types of measures to prevent the opposition from telling the world” about the true extent of the country’s current economic and humanitarian crisis.
Standing in front of a bleeding Julio Borges, the leader of the largest parliamentary block who was physically attacked on Thursday by Chavista sympathizers, Ramos Allup stated that the Maduro regime is violating “Venezuelans’ right to recall this government.”
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The Speaker of the National Assembly’s statements came after government-organized paramilitary groups attacked Borges and other opposition members as they peacefully gathered before the CNE to demand that the Electoral Council stop delaying the recall referendum against President Maduro, a motion backed in accordance to the constitution by over one million citizens with their signatures.
The opposition believes the Electoral Council, whose members were appointed by Maduro, intends to delay the referendum as a political tactic to keep the Chavistas in power. Physical attacks against opposition members are taking place on a daily basis.
“You are witnesses,” Ramos Allup said to journalists, “that criminals are permanently surrounding this building.” He also said that thugs with a known criminal record act as a “shock brigade” under the payroll of Jorge Rodríguez, a leader of the official United Socialisty Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and mayor of the Capital District. Their aim is to harass opposition politicians and impede their access to the National Assembly.
Congressmen, he claimed, have been threatened with the presence of the armed “collectives,” the Chavista euphemism for fascist Brownshirts, in the National Assembly itself.
The Obama administration has so far backed an Argentinean initiative that calls for a dialogue between the Maduro government and the opposition, while delaying the proposal of the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) that calls for tougher measures to be directed against Venezuela for violating the organization’s Democratic Charter. As key leaders of the Venezuelan opposition languish in prison or exile, other leading opposition figures have likened this request for dialogue to “asking a kidnapping victim to negotiate with his captors.”
While standing on the steps of the Venezuelan National Capitol, Ramos Allup added that “the Supreme Court is preparing to issue rulings so that any criticism toward the government from opposition congressmen before international organizations can be punished as treason.”
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The leader of the National Assembly also said that opposition politicians accused of treason would have no legal guarantees even in spite of their parliamentary immunity. Any congressman who criticizes the government, he declared, would be arrested once the government had presented its accusation before the Supreme Court. Ramos Allup stated:
They want to reduce parliamentary immunity to the minimum so that we can’t even criticize the government.
The Speaker of the National Assembly called the Supreme Court “shameful”, saying that its seven members “should be in prison” for being mere puppets of the Chavista regime.
He further confirmed the opposition’s willingness to stand firm in the face of adversity and physical violence:
With rain, thunder, or lightning, we will continue to exert all the civil pressure we can so that the recall referendum against this corrupt and inefficient government, which has led Venezuela to its current, tragic state, can be held this very year.
This is not a political stance. It’s the people on the street with nothing to eat. All of Venezuela has no medicines. Venezuela has no electric power, no water, no security, no future with a government composed of criminals of the worst kind…
To conclude, Ramos Allup launched serious accusations of corruption in the armed forces and of their complicity with Venezuela’s authoritarian regime:
They might assault us, they might kill us, they might surround us with cowardly soldiers and criminal policemen, who are afraid to take on delinquents while they suppress democracy…
The armed forces in this country have become disgusting. They don’t defend the constitution, they don’t defend the rule of law, they don’t defend the people’s rights. They only defend the rights of a corrupt government and of the violent “colectivos.”