Crisis Deepens in Venezuela As Maduro Backers Storm Congress

from The Wall Street Journal,

Demonstrators attack opposition lawmakers, sending at least one to hospital, as ruling government seeks to change constitution.

Government supporters armed with pipes and sticks burst into Venezuela’s congress on Wednesday and severely beat several opposition lawmakers, as the nation’s political crisis grows more inflamed ahead of a contested effort to redraft the constitution. The violence started after dozens of backers of the president stormed the opposition-controlled National Assembly in downtown Caracas ahead of a legislative session to mark Venezuela’s independence day. Some 300 congressional workers and journalists sought protection by barricading themselves for several hours inside the assembly, where lawmakers also were organizing an unofficial July 16 ballot to counter President Nicolás Maduro’s plan to rewrite the constitution, which his critics say is a last-ditch effort by the unpopular leader to forgo elections. –– ADVERTISEMENT –– “The dictatorship’s attack cannot go against a people decided on regaining freedom,” opposition lawmaker Armando Armas said in a post on social media after he was left bloodied by protesters, according to witnesses. The attack drew swift international censure. “My absolute condemnation of the violent assault on Venezuelan parliament,” Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said in a message posted on his Twitter profile.

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