CARACAS – Maduro Regime legislators closed ranks on Wednesday around Luis Parra, an “opposition” figure whom they elected to head the National Assembly without the support of the opposition majority who were blocked by security forces from attending, as the same time as the Opposition leaders called people into the streets to protest “for peace.”
Despite the fact that the leadership board headed by Parra has the support of Chavistas and other supporters of the Nicolas Maduro regime, the lawmaker from the opposition coalition warned that he will not “subordinate” himself to the Constituent National Assembly (ANC), the legislative body comprised only of government militants that has taken over the functions of the legitimate parliament since 2017.
“We’re not going to subordinate ourselves to anyone,” Parra declared.
In an interview with EFE, upon being asked about the doubts surrounding who the lawmakers were who voted for him during last Sunday’s tense legislative session, Parra said that he will request the videos of the session to prove who was present and thus that a proper quorum was achieved before the vote that elevated him to the president of the assembly.
The lawmaker, who in December was expelled from the ranks of the Primero Justicia (PJ) party due to his links to an alleged corruption case, says that the video evidence from the session “is enough” to verify who supported his controversial election. There was no roll call nor a vote by name, however.
Last Sunday, Parra said he had been elected president of parliament with the backing of the Maduro-supporting legislators in a tense session from which the president of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido, and several dozen of his legislative supporters were barred by Venezuela’s militarized police, the Bolivarian National Guard, who had been deployed around the legislative seat.
Despite that, Guaido was later reelected head of the National Assembly by a vote of 100 of the chamber’s 167 members in a parallel session held at the main office of El Nacional newspaper in Caracas.
Parra said that the “best way” to get Maduro out of power “is at the ballot box” and later added that he will undertake efforts to “eradicate the confrontation” between Chavista and anti-Chavista forces.
Regarding the armed forces (FANB), the leaders of which have declared themselves to be “deeply Chavista,” Parra called upon them to “fulfill what the Constitution establishes,” adding that institution “cannot be at the service ... (of) political partisanship.”
He reminded the FANB, which he said he respects and recognizes, that the legislature “is a civil Parliament” and that it is ready to move forward with initiatives to “return” to the Constitution.
“It’s clear that we recognize the new authorities of the (National Assembly), absolutely,” the president of the Maduro-backing ANC, Diosdado Cabello, said on Wednesday at a press conference.
He said that Parra was “elected under the (Constitution’s) established rules” and the internal regulations of the body.
“I don’t know him, I’ve never seen him in my life, not even from a distance,” Cabello said when asked about Parra.
Just as Maduro has said, Cabello claimed that the confrontation between Parra and Guaido over who actually heads the National Assembly was due to “differences” between opposition “groups.”
The institutional crisis sparked by the Sunday vote revived calls for protests by both the government and the opposition headed by Guaido, who is still recognized as Venezuela’s legitimate interim leader by almost 60 countries, including the United States, most Latin American countries and most of the European Union.
Russia, however, stood by its communist ally. "We consider the election of the new leadership of parliament to be the result of a legitimate democratic procedure conducive to the return of the Venezuelan political struggle to the constitutional field," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Opposition Deputy Angel Alvarez revealed on Wednesday that Russia was negotiating with Parra to sign off on Russia's questionable ownership of billions of dollars of Venezuela oil and gas fields.
The opposition called on the public to take to the streets from Thursday through Saturday and to stage a massive march next Tuesday to accompany the opposition majority lawmakers to the Federal Legislative Palace on that day, when they hope to enter the legislative building without any confrontation with security forces.