Venezuela Socialists snatch Congress from Guaido in 'parliamentary coup'


Police had prevented opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido from entering the parliament, and in his absence Luis Parra, a corruption-tainted opposition lawmaker, declared himself parliament speaker.

On Sunday, Guaido failed to secure re-election as the speaker of Venezuela's National Assembly, a post he received in January 2019 amid rotating leadership of the legislature by the country's opposition parties. The opposition's tally showed that 100 of parliament's 167 legislators voted in his favor.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido installed a "parallel" parliament in Caracas on Tuesday.

Argentina's Foreign Ministry sent a two-sentence letter to Elisa Trotta Gamus, the Guaido-backed ambassador to Argentina, informing her that it was "putting an end to your special mission in the Argentine Republic". "We're going to make every effort for the press to go in, as well as every effort for parliamentarians to enter".

Mr. Guaido and the opposition lawmakers pushed through and eventually entered the building.

"If the regime had had the votes, it would not have ordered soldiers to keep elected representatives from the National Assembly in embarrassing scenes you've seen in videos", he said.

But Maduro's move suggests he does not expect major consequences from the United States, though the government has steered clear of actions - like arresting Guaido - that could provoke a harsher response.

"We underestimated the importance of the Cuban and Russian support for the regime, which has proved I think to be the two most important pillars of support for the regime and without which it wouldn't be there, it wouldn't be in power", Abrams said. An opposition list headed by Yaracuy State Deputy Parra was elected with a reported 81 of 150 votes to replace the Guaido-led board.

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Dozens of countries, including the United States, denounced Parra's appointment as illegitimate, and said they continued to recognize Guaido as the parliament's head and as Venezuela's rightful president.

Opposition leader and reelected president of the National Assembly Juan Guaido attempts to get through a blockade to the National Assembly entrance on January 5.

"Arrests, bribes and blocking access to its building were unable to derail #Venezuela's National Assembly, " Pompeo wrote.

The government would ignore the fuss and focus on winning the Assembly in elections expected for later this year, he said.

Venezuela's opposition denounced a "parliamentary coup" after a rival to Juan Guaido declared himself parliament speaker on Sunday as security forces prevented the incumbent from entering.

Parra said on Monday his priority is to set up a new electoral council to preside over free and fair elections. Guaido said Moscow was "interfering in our affairs".

"Luis Parra... has been sworn in during this session today", said a state television announcer, following an improvised swearing-in ceremony amid clamoring and what appeared to be protests by opposition legislators.

The government of embattled president Nicolas Maduro has already recognized Parra.