Venezuela Opposition Leader Enters Congress Amid Standoff

Jan 7, 2020
11:21 AM

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó yells “enter!” to fellow opposition lawmakers as they make their way past road blocks created by security forces and try to attend a session at the National Assembly, a few blocks from the legislature in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, January 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Matías Delacroix)

By FABIOLA SÁNCHEZ, Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Opposition leader Juan Guaidó and opposition lawmakers pushed their way into Venezuela’s legislative building Tuesday following a standoff with security forces as the nation’s political divide deepens.

The man recognized by the U.S. and over 50 other nations as Venezuela’s rightful president made his way toward his seat in the National Assembly and led lawmakers in boisterously singing the country’s anthem.

Shortly thereafter electricity in the building went out, but lawmakers continued in the dimly lit assembly, shouting into microphones that did not work to declare Guaidó the legitimate president of the congress.

“This is a show of what can happen when we are united,” Guaidó yelled.

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó argues for National Guard members to let him and all opposition lawmakers into the National Assembly, outside the legislature in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, January 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Matías Delacroix)

Venezuela’s opposition is facing its biggest test yet after government-backed lawmakers announced they were taking control of what Guaidó supporters have described as the nation’s last democratic institution.

Guaidó has served as president of the National Assembly for the last year and used it as his platform to gain international recognition. He was expected to be re-elected as the legislature’s leader Sunday but was blocked along with several other lawmakers from entering congress.

Former opposition ally Luis Parra declared himself the National Assembly’s leader, claiming to have won the votes of 81 lawmakers.

The opposition refutes that tally and says 100 lawmakers, a majority, voted for Guaidó in a legislative session held later at a Venezuelan newspaper.