CARACAS, VENEZUELA - Armed security forces and civilian motorcycle groups loyal to Venezuela’s president forcefully blocked opposition lawmakers from entering the National Assembly building to hold a session on Wednesday.
It’s the second time this month that lawmakers have been barred from from the building that houses the only branch of government out of control of President Nicolás Maduro’s socialist government.
Attempting to reach the legislative chamber, t he caravan of cars carrying the deputies dodged through downtown streets, but ultimately failed.
Gunshots could heard near the cars, but no injuries were reported. Two SUV’s carrying the lawmakers came under attack by people on the street dressed in civilian clothes. They struck the rear window of one, shattering it.
“The dictatorship is intent on militarily kidnapping the Federal Legislative Palace and using repressive instruments and paramilitary groups,” Guaidó said on Twitter, accusing Maduro’s government of following a “clumsy and erroneous path.”
He said that the lawmakers had decided to hold the session at another location in the Caracas suburb of El Hatillo.
The incident was part of a struggle for control of the opposition-controlled National Assembly and Venezuela as a whole, a nation suffering economic and social collapse that’s led estimated 4.5 million to emigrate.
A once oil-wealthy nation, Venezuela has been locked in a political, economic and social collapse for the last five years. Basic medicines, food and gasoline are scarce, despite the fact Venezuela sits atop the world’s largest oil reserves.
The 36-year-old Guaidó leaped onto Venezuela’s political stage a year ago when he declared himself acting president under the constitution and vowed to to end Maduro’s rule. The United States and more than 50 other nations quickly backed him, saying Maduro’s reelection in 2018 was illegitimate.
Guaidó was also blocked from the the National Assembly building early this month in a failed government attempt to prevent him from being reelected as the body’s leader.
It’s unclear where Guaidó was during the attempted entry to the National Assembly building on Wednesday.
Opposition lawmaker Delsa Solórzano said she was riding in a car with at least three other lawmakers that came under attack near the legislative building with rocks and sticks. She also reported hearing gunfire.
“Evidently tried to kill us,” Solórzano said. “Today, our parliament is practically kidnapped.”