The ruling party recovered this Tuesday the National Assembly of Venezuela to the detriment of the opposition Juan Guaidó that, however, he ignored and appointed a parallel Parliament with him at the head. The apparently surreal episode reveals the degree of political tension in the country, which is witnessing a consolidation of Chavismo after the December 6 elections and an uncertain future for the head of the opposition; both in terms of maintaining his position once he has been stripped of leadership in the Chamber and in his strategy to end the Government of Nicolás Maduro.
In the last five years, the political board has been guided by a critical balance, with Maduro at the head of the Executive and Guaidó leading the majority of a Parliament whose decisions were systematically annulled by the Supreme Court, but in which he has been able to move thanks to his electoral support in 2015 and wide international support. However, the elections on the 6th – with more than 70% abstention and not recognized by the opposition or by much of the international community – have turned this table upside down after the presidential party reaped an almost absolute victory.
In fact, the ruling party will occupy 256 of the 277 seats, which gives Maduro broad control over the Assembly. This Tuesday, two hundred deputies made a first show of force when they entered the Legislative Palace en bloc to take office carrying the portraits of Simón Bolívar and Hugo Chávez, which Juan Guaidó had ordered to be evicted from the session hall.
While the Chavista representatives arrived, the head of the opposition met with his former parliamentarians – also on Monday the mandate of all of them expired – and approved the constitution of a body parallel to the National Assembly. For Guaidó, only this Chamber is “legitimate” given that the last elections “have been a fraud” and is based on the need to give “administrative continuity” to the previous legislature.
In a secret place
The meeting took place in a “secret place” in Caracas for security reasons, and at the end the opposition leader sent the message to Maduro that “we are still standing.” His intention is to work in this body until new “clean and fair” elections are held as a Delegate Commission, a figure that the Constitution contemplates for holiday periods and that allows the institution to operate with less than 20% of deputies .
However, there are doubts about the towing capacity that Guaidó will now have in a new scenario where, unlike in 2015, has lost the elections. In the absence of knowing Biden’s position, he will also not have the support that he now enjoyed with Trump as president of the United States.
The streets near the palace were closed to the public under a strong police cordon. Only a group of followers of Chavismo were able to approach the hemicycle to form an improvised platform outside and greet their elected representatives. “A new cycle begins in the history of Venezuela,” said Maduro on Monday, who regains control of the Chamber after five years in the hands of the opposition. The former Minister of Communication, Jorge Rodríguez, is expected to preside over the Legislature.