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Chavez's Revenge

The New Venezuelan Assembly's Rough Start

Deputies of Venezuelan opposition parties pose for a picture in front of a giant picture of Venezuela's late President Hugo Chavez after a session of the National Assembly in Caracas, January 5, 2016. Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters

Hopes for dialogue between Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and the opposition-controlled National Assembly evaporated just minutes after the new legislature was sworn in on Tuesday, January 5. In a dispute over a procedural matter, pro-Maduro legislators walked out. 

These legislators, who belong to Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), rose to leave just as the assembly’s majority leader, Julio Borges, was detailing the opposition’s legislative agenda, including an amnesty law to free political prisoners. Borges was not shaken as PSUV legislators exited amid catcalls and insults. “The people elected us to make a change,” Borges said. “And that is what we are going to do.” 

Few analysts predicted a smooth transition from the PSUV, which lost its legislative majority for the first time in 17 years and now holds 54 seats to the opposition Democratic Unity’s 109. However, the speed at which yesterday’s rupture occurred surprised many.

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