Venezuela has a new president of the National Assembly

Juan Guaidó.

Juan Guaidó. / Photo: AP

LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Suárez

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Leer en español: Venezuela tiene dos presidentes en la Asamblea Nacional

The elections of the new president of the National Assembly were scheduled for Sunday, January 5, and the day was full of ups and downs.

The current president of the National Assembly and interim president of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, was on the road to the re-election of that post, which would be known after the election day of the deputies on Sunday morning.

The opponents of Nicolás Maduro's regime were sure that the votes would throw Guaidó as the winner. On the other hand, the Chavistas and a dissident portion of the opposition, which has also criticized the administration of Guaidó, had another result in mind.

A turbulent day followed the polarization that was already present in the Assembly. In the morning hours, while some deputies were on the premises prepared to vote, both Juan Guaidó and other deputies were prevented from entering the Legislative Palace. The National Police prevented his entry and subsequently held him for a few hours.

Thanks to the impediment, the president of the National Assembly, Guaidó, tried to enter by force trying to jump the fence while members of the National Police pulled him to prevent it.


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Two presidents

While Guaidó was being held, the opponent, Luis Parra, was behind closed doors and proclaimed himself the new president of the National Assembly.

The self-proclamation of Parra, currently allied with the regime of Nicolás Maduro, occurs in a hostile environment given the retention of Juan Guaidó, who for many countries, such as the United States, is considered the legitimate president of Venezuela. Luis Parra arrives at the position without sufficient votes to do so but with the support of the Chavista sector and some opponents of the Maduro regime that have dissented, while Guaidó was trying to go for re-election.

The fact was condemned by the opposition of the Maduro regime, as it prevented the democratic exercise in which Juan Guaidó could possibly have been elected again as president of the National Assembly. This was the only power wing in which the opposition had an opposition majority. Therefore, Guaido reaffirmed that Venezuela lives a dictatorship and all who prevented its entry to the vote are participants in it. The opposition declared this fact as a 'parliamentary coup', similar to what a coup would represent.

In fact, the entrance of deputies and press was also prevented.

Read also: Former President Rafael Correa is called to trial

Meanwhile, the new self-proclaimed president of the National Assembly, Luis Parra, is accused of corruption and in days before, in the race to the elections, he had affirmed that "Guaidó has kidnapped the Parliament" and is the image of a failed route to the depolarization of the country, which is what he seeks.

Luis Parra is an old known opponent of Guaidó, because, according to BBC, "Parra and other opposition deputies had interceded before foreign institutions to exonerate businessmen linked to the Government accused of corruption." This had seated a distance between both deputies, although Parra denies any accusation.

The vice president of the National Assembly, Stalin González, described the self-proclamation as a "clown" and said it had no validity.

On the contrary, unlike what Guaidó's allies said, the Chavista majority opponents rejected the absence of the deputy to the election and stressed that this is a new path for the National Assembly.

This first part of the day was followed by a new and improvised vote, where hundreds of allied deputies from Guaidó met to choose who the president of the National Assembly would be for them. In this vote, the deputies re-elected Juan Guaidó to continue being the president of Congress and interim president of Venezuela.

For his part, Nicolás Maduro supported the election of Luis Parra and recognized him as the new president of the National Assembly. "The National Assembly has made a decision and there is a new board of directors …," he said. In addition, he said that Guaido did not reach the morning vote because he knew he did not have enough votes to win re-election. 

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