Sunday saw new chaos in Venezuela’s enduring political and economic disaster. Juan Guaido, leader of parliament and the opposition to President Nicolas Maduro, was physically barred from the National Assembly. Maduro supporters then claimed they’d replaced him as the speaker. But Guaido later rallied enough members of parliament to secure reelection. Special correspondent Marcia Biggs reports.
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As Venezuela's steep slide into economic disaster accelerates, major political upheaval continues to roil the nation.
The opposition to President Nicolas Maduro took another hit in the National Assembly yesterday, and the leading opposition figure found himself literally on the outside looking in.
With support from the Pulitzer Center, special correspondent Marcia Biggs reports from Caracas.
Chaos in Venezuela's National Assembly for a vote that was supposed to be a foregone conclusion.
Lawmakers had gathered for the annual election of new leadership in Parliament. And the projected favorite? Incumbent Speaker Juan Guaido, who last year declared the presidency of Nicolas Maduro illegitimate.
Invoking the constitution, he claimed his role as de facto president and won the support of 58 countries around the world, including the U.S..
But he's failed to take control of the country. The vote stalled for hours yesterday, and tempers flared as members of Parliament waited for Guaido's arrival as National Guards troops blocked his entrance. Then, without him, a faction of supporters loyal to Maduro seized the floor.
And by a quick show of hands and no formal vote, they declared a winner. And that's when the chaos erupted both inside and out.
It's been an incredible scene here. We're standing out in front of the National Assembly Palace, where Guaido was just voted out, but only because he was stuck outside the gate with his supporters, unable to get in to vote, the National Guard holding him back.
Supporters of Guaido rushed the gate, screaming that the country had become a dictatorship. Guaido himself even tried to jump the fence, with troops beating him back.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly dispersed, with their newly elected leader, this man, Luis Parra, an opposition member willing to negotiate with Maduro. The U.S. was quick to condemn the election, but President Maduro seized on the results.
Nicolas Maduro (through translator):
The National Assembly has made a decision, and there is a new leadership group from the opposition headed by Congressman Luis Parra from the First Justice Party.
Outside the palace, Maduro' supporters rallied. But that wasn't the end.
Across town later that evening, Guaido held his own vote, bringing together enough members of Parliament to garner the 84 votes required to win reelection.
Juan Guaido (through translator):
I swear before God, before the Venezuelan people to fulfill this constitution, the inherent duties of the position of president of the Parliament and interim president of Venezuela, to enforce the rights of our Venezuelan brothers and sisters.
Big promises for a country which yesterday had two competing presidents, now today dueling parliaments as well, and all this as the country spirals further into a failed state.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Marcia Biggs in Caracas.