Venezuela Fight: Politicians Brawl In Parliament Over Disputed Election [VIDEO]

Maria Corina Machado
Maria Corina Machado, an opposition congresswoman, was said to have sustained a broken nose in the fight. Reuters

A brawl broke out on the Venezuelan parliament floor on Tuesday in which 11 members of parliament were injured. The violence occurred after a measure was passed denying members of the opposition party the right to speak in the chamber unless they recognize the legitimacy of the April 14 presidential election results in which Nicolás Maduro was announced as winner by a slim margin. Opposition members had unfurled a banner in the chamber in which they denounced the "parliamentary coup". Videos of the incident do not show who threw the first punch, though both sides blame each other. The results of the election are disputed by the opposition, who say the vote audit currently being carried out does not include measures addressing the types of fraud of which they claim to have thousands of pieces of evidence. Click here to see video of the fight or scroll down.

In his comments about the measure, head of parliament Diosdado Cabello - number 2 ranking power in the country - told the chamber that "until they recognize the authorities, the institutions of the republic, the sovereign will of our people, the opposition deputies will have to go and speak (to the private media) but not here in this National Assembly."

When opposition legislators interrupted the session, shouting and waving their banner, violence broke out.

Julio Borges, the opposition congressman, appeared afterward on the privately run news network Globovisión with a bloody, swollen left eye and cheekbone. He said that other opposition members who had been beaten were Ismael García, María Corina Machado y Nora Bracho. María Corina Machado said during a press conference that she had been beaten by a female congresswoman from the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. "She threw me to the floor, kicked me and hit me while Congressman Diosdado Cabello laughed, it was happening beside his bench and the congressman was laughing," Machado said through tears, adding, ""It was a premeditated, cowardly, vile, aggression."

On the Socialists' side of the aisle, Odalis Monzón said that she was "attacked by the opposition ranks", after which she had to "defend the legacy" of the late Hugo Chavez. Nancy Ascencio, Maigualida Barrera and Claudio Farías were also reportedly among Socialist parliament members injured.

President Nicolás Maduro condemned the violence and suggested the opposition had planned it. "What happened today in the National Assembly, we do not agree with violence," he said. "They tell us and we knew that the opposition was coming to provoke violence, and there was a strong exchange of blows, very strong. This must not repeat itself." He called for parliamentary head Diosdado Cabello to "take measures of authority and discipline so that events like these are not repeated, because we have to seek peace, coexistence, respect for the Constitution, for laws, for ideas."

Opposition candidate Henrique Capriles also condemned the violence and expressed solidarity with the parliament members affected. "This corrupt, fascist, illegitimate government will NOT change the ways of the Venezuelan who detests violence!" he wrote on Twitter.

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David Iaconangelo is a Brooklyn-based writer and translator.  Formerly editor of ZafraLit, a blog of new short fiction from Cuba.  He has lived in and reported from various Latin American countries.