On April 30, the Venezuelan parliament broke out in a massive brawl which injured seventeen lawmakers. Ever since the victory of political heir to Hugo Chávez, Nicolás Maduro, the country has been in a state of unrest. That’s because Maduro won by 1.49 percentage points. His opponent, Henrique Caprilles, has refused to accept the official election results and has demanded the ballots be recounted. So far, that hasn’t happened. Members of the opposition became outraged on Tuesday after the National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello passed a measure that denied the right of any of the opposition to speak. The measure passed stated that assembly persons could not speak until they formally recognized Nicolás Maduro as president.
Here’s what happened next:
Two members of the oppisition party are pictured here with wounds obtained during the brawl:
This is not how a democracy works. The media was apparently unable to report on the brawl live because were functionally tied up with other issues, though it isn’t likely that they would have been allowed to any way. The new governments crackdown on opposition has been strong and violent. The Maduro government has already used the media to paint the opposition as violent rabble-rousers whose sole aim is to destabilize the country. On April 14, only hours after polls closed, Maduro was declared the winner of the presidential election. Nine individuals lost their lives in the post-election protests. Capriles has vowed to challenge the election results to the Venezuelan Supreme Court.
May Day rallies are expected from both pro-government and pro-opposition sides. These will be the first large scale protests to be held since the April 14 election and how the Venezuelan government and military responds will be incredibly telling. It has only been a few weeks since Maduro was elected but his actions have already shown us the type of leader he will be. As the Washington Post rightly notes, the Maduro government is waiting and watching to see how and if the Obama administration will respond. If there is no action, expect to see an even wider and more violent crackdown on members of the opposition party.