Mérida, 20th March 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan legislators have called for a criminal investigation into opposition National Assembly (AN) member Maria Corina Machado.
Some legislators chanted “justice” ahead of the Tuesday's vote in the AN, which saw the parliamentary body approve calls for a probe into Machado's alleged role in weeks of deadly protests.
The AN called for a range of charges against Machado, including treason and incitement to crime.
Socialist Party (PSUV) legislator Tania Diaz proposed the resolution, accusing Machado of being part of a plot to provoke civil war.
“This is not a political confrontation, it's not a personal issue. It's about enforcing the mandate given to us by the people, that this institution must be a guarantee of the rights of the people,” Diaz stated.
“Whoever violates the right to life, health [and] education of the people, is violating the constitution,” the legislator said.
In presenting her call for charges, Diaz also hit out at Machado over a controversial audio recording, leaked by government sources last June.
In the recording, Machado can be heard stating that the head of the opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable's (MUD) Ramon Guillermo Aveledo advocated for a “coup”.
Machado confirmed the voice was hers last June, but slammed the government for releasing the material, claiming it was an “illegal” act.
In backing Diaz's call for an investigation, AN head Diosdado Cabello not only accused Machado of backing violent protests, but also of “murder”.
“You have to use the correct name: murder,” Cabello said.
“No to impunity, if there is no justice there is no peace in this country,” he stated.
Later in the day, Machado released a statement denying the allegations, and claiming the order against her had “come from Havana”.
“They wanted to eliminate us and made us invincible. We are millions on the street and will continue to fight to achieve democracy,” Machado said.
“This attack on me is the result of a regime of terror against an unprecedented citizen movement,” Machado stated during a news conference on Tuesday.
No charges can be brought against Machado until the AN votes to strip her of parliamentary immunity, as it did to another opposition legislator Maria Aranguren last November. Both the state prosecutor and the Supreme Court will also need to approve any investigation. State media has reported that PSUV legislators have already presented alleged evidence against Machado to the prosecutor.
On Wednesday, Machado flew to the United States to attend a meeting of the Organisation of American States (OAS). She is expected to deliver an address on anti-government protests to the OAS on Friday in Washington. On Tuesday, Panama offered Machado its seat at the OAS so she could speak before the regional body.
One of Venezuela's most prolific far-right voices, Machado has been a critic of both President Nicolas Maduro, and his predecessor Hugo Chavez. In 2002, she signed her name to the manifesto of a short-lived coup that temporarily ousted Chavez. Known as the Carmona Decree, the document suspended the AN and declared Pedro Carmona de-facto president of Venezuela, after Chavez had been kidnapped by coup plotters.
When the coup was overthrown and Chavez returned to power, Machado claimed she had signed the decree by accident during a visit to the presidential palace amid the unrest. Machado has since maintained she thought the coup manifesto was a sign-in sheet for guests.
Another far-right figure, Leopoldo Lopez, was arrested last month, and could face charges related to violent demonstrations.