Venezuela’s supreme court declares all acts of opposition-led National Assembly illegal
The National Assembly is a 167-seat legislature, currently headed by Juan Guaidó of the Popular Will party – a fierce opponent of Maduro, who had been taking part in protests against him and has called for the country’s military to depose the president.
Maduro already declared the National Assembly illegitimate in 2017, and created a new legislature - the Constituent National Assembly - to replace it, where all seats are currently held by pro-Maduro parties. As Maduro lacks the Constitutional power to outright dissolve the National Assembly, both houses have functioned alongside each other since 2017, with the CNA given power to overrule legislation passed by the National Assembly.
Maduro was sworn in last week after winning re-election last May. The opposition-led assembly and a coalition of neighboring countries declared Maduro’s election illegitimate.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Maduro’s election “illegitimate” and a “sham,” and vowed to keep up diplomatic pressure on the Venezuelan government.
Guaidó was briefly detained by secret police en route to a rally last week. Maduro insisted that Guaidó’s arrest was not government-ordered, and may have been staged for the media.
The Supreme Court’s announcement comes amid news of anti-government demonstrations in the country’s capital, as well as a mutiny by a National Guard unit stationed in a slum neighborhood near the Presidential Palace. Government forces arrested 40 National Guardsmen and fired tear gas at protesters in the early hours of Monday morning.
Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said on Twitter that the rogue soldiers will “be punished with the full weight of the law.”Also on rt.com Armed Venezuelan soldiers detained in Caracas for trying to stage ‘uprising’ against Maduro
Video footage from the neighborhood shows protesters lighting fires and blocking the streets with barricades.
#AVANCE Así se encuentra la parroquia San José de Cotiza en Caracas, tras el alzamiento de al menos 40 efectivos del Comando de la Guardia Nacional #21Ene (8:19am) https://t.co/BbxZ3lcir5pic.twitter.com/dnGbzleW9R— NTN24 Venezuela (@NTN24ve) January 21, 2019
The ongoing crisis in Venezuela is being closely followed by US media and politicians, the majority of whom are openly anti-Maduro. Vice President Mike Pence has expressed support for Guaidó, calling the National Assembly the “only legitimate body in the country,” while Florida Senator Marco Rubio has repeatedly called Maduro’s government “illegitimate” and pressed for regime change in the Latin American country.
Venezuela has been mired by hyperinflation, starvation, and a refugee crisis that has seen almost three million Venezuelans flee the country. Washington has blamed the socialist economic policies of Maduro and his mentor Hugo Chavez for the deepening crisis, while passing sanctions against the Maduro government officials. The latest major batch of sanctions was in September signed by President Donald Trump, who once announced he is “not going to rule out a military option” in addressing the crisis in Venezuela.
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