Maracaibo, May 1st, 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Violence broke out yesterday in Venezuela’s National Assembly between Chavista and anti-Chavista lawmakers after opposition representatives disrupted the day’s session with air horns, whistles, and shouting.
A tense situation was expected on Wednesday, after National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello announced that he would not give opposition lawmakers permission to intervene on the floor of the assembly unless they recognize President Nicolas Maduro as the legitimate president of Venezuela, something they have so far refused to do.
“If they don’t recognize the president, then how are they going to demand to be recognized? They were elected to be representatives with the same electoral system as Nicolas Maduro, some with even smaller margins of victory,” said Cabello on Wednesday.
In response, opposition representatives arrived at the session prepared to disrupt the proceedings with loud noises and unraveled a large sign that read “Golpe al Parlamento” (Coup in the Parliament).
It is not clear what led to the violence that ensued. Venezuelan private media immediately published images of opposition lawmaker Julio Borges with a bruised face and black eye, and claimed that various opposition representatives had been attacked by Chavista representatives.
A short video showed a Chavista lawmaker throwing punches at Borges while others attempted to hold the aggressor back.
Opposition representative Maria Corina Machado held a press conference shortly after in which she claimed that she was also attacked, along with 8 other opposition representatives.
“We are going through the darkest hour of violence in Venezuela, but here we are firmer than ever to defend democracy and the freedom of our country,” said Machado.
Private media portrayed the event as an attack on opposition lawmakers who were simply trying to exercise their right to intervene on the floor of the assembly.
However, Chavista lawmakers and state media showed a different side to the story, publishing photos and videos of the actions of opposition representatives in the lead up to the violence.
“They came to the assembly with every intention to create chaos,” said Cabello on Wednesday evening.
Videos shown by the state channel on Wednesday evening showed that opposition legislators had gathered at the front of the assembly chamber, demanding that Assembly President Diosdado Cabello allow them to speak
When Chavista lawmakers tried to intervene they were shoved away by opposition lawmakers, pushing one female representative to the floor.
Shortly after, Julio Borges handed out air horns and whistles while one opposition representative from the eastern state of Anzoategui began throwing assembly chairs at the Chavista officials that had gathered in front of them.
In the violence that ensued various legislators traded blows resulting in injuries from both sides though perhaps none as visible as the bruised face of Borges.
Chavista representatives assured that the whole situation had been pre-planned by the opposition with the help of private media.
“It seemed inevitable that there would be violence because from the early morning hours opposition legislators were saying that if we didn’t let them speak then they would not let us speak either,” said Cabello.
Opposition media mogul Alberto Federico Ravell indicated via Twitter hours before the violence occurred that something was going to happen.
“I hope they don’t censor what is going to happen in the National Assembly this afternoon,” wrote Ravell via Twitter.
Opposition lawmaker Alfonso Marquina showed up to the session wearing a motorcycle helmet, presumably to protect himself from the violence that he knew would occur.
“Who shows up to an assembly session with a helmet? Did he know something? They were all following a script and now they want to say the violence was all our fault,” said Cabello.
“We have had enough of them refusing to recognize state institutions. They don’t recognize the National Electoral Council, the Supreme Court, the Attorney General and now they are trying to attack the legitimacy of the National Assembly,” he said.
President Nicolas Maduro denounced the violence on Wednesday night, assuring that it would not happen again.
“We are against all violence. This was chaos and I have been informed that the opposition came to the Assembly prepared to incite violence. This must not be repeated,” he said.
Maduro said that Assembly President Diosdado Cabello would take the necessary disciplinary measures to assure no more violence occurs.