16 de febrero de 2020
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Chavistas march in Caracas, opposition fails to hold legislative session

Caracas, Jan 23 (efe-epa).- Supporters of Chavism on Thursday marched in Caracas to commemorate the 62nd anniversary of the fall of the Marcos Perez Jimenez dictatorship, showing the muscle of the Nicolas Maduro government and its backers, while members of the Venezuelan opposition failed to hold a scheduled parliamentary session.

Caracas, Jan 23 (efe-epa).- Supporters of Chavism on Thursday marched in Caracas to commemorate the 62nd anniversary of the fall of the Marcos Perez Jimenez dictatorship, showing the muscle of the Nicolas Maduro government and its backers, while members of the Venezuelan opposition failed to hold a scheduled parliamentary session.

The Chavistas marched a little more than three kilometers (about two miles) in western Caracas to Miraflores Palace, the presidential residence, and expressed their support for Maduro.

"Today we're here in support of the Bolivarian Revolution," Luis Fernando Guerrero, one of the Chavistas, told EFE during the march.

The 51-year-old Caracas resident was one of hundreds of workers for the state-run Bolipuertos corporation who left their offices to back Maduro on the streets and stage the march "against imperialism."

But they also commemorated the fact that on Jan. 23, 1958, Venezuelans demanded their democratic "ideals" by staging a civil-military uprising that toppled the de facto government of Perez Jimenez, who is infamously remembered for his human rights violations.

"Jan. 23 is a day of demands, where the people ... turned out to defend all their guarantees," Guerrero added.

At Miraflores, Maduro received the marchers and said that the opposition can only "celebrate ... the absolute failure (today)" of the interim government proclaimed a year ago by opposition leader Juan Guaido, the president of the National Assembly, whom almost 60 countries around the world have recognized as Venezuela's legitimate president.

"A year ago a tragedy began," said Maduro before thousands of supporters. "They intended to impose a coup d'etat on our people ... The only thing they can celebrate is the absolute failure of their coupist adventure backed by the United States," he added.

In addition, he said he hoped that the Venezuelan judiciary is "following all the calls for sanctions and interventions" he said Guaido has been making on his trip to Colombia and Europe and that the appropriate "decisions" will be made as a result.

Maduro also noted that there will be parliamentary elections this year and he reiterated his invitation to the United Nations to appoint a mission to monitor the vote.

"Venezuela wants the UN to name election monitors," he said, extending the same invitation to the governments of Mexico, Argentina and Panama, as well as to the European Union.

At the beginning of this week, the opposition united under Guaido announced more than 100 demonstrations around the country and a special parliamentary session to commemorate the fall of the Perez Jimenez dictatorship.

However, by 3 pm there had been no reports of opposition marches, not even in east Caracas, which is a bastion of anti-Maduro forces.

No parliamentary session had been held either.

"They hindered the ... (opposition) activities using the terrorist collectives, using the (police special forces or FAES), which is a kind of Praetorian Guard for the dictator Maduro," Juan Pablo Guanipa, the first vice president of the parliament the opposition recognizes, told reporters.

EFE verified that there was a heavy national police presence and several dozen motorists supporting Maduro on hand in the El Paraiso district of Caracas, where opposition lawmakers were to have held their session.

Human rights organization consider members of the so-called "collectives" to be paramilitaries.

"Terrorism has inserted itself into the Venezuelan State," Guanipa added before stating that groups like Hezbollah and Al Qaeda "are in some direct way linked with Nicolas Maduro and his dictatorship."

Guanipa also said that Guaido would return to Venezuela "in the next few days" to resume "his duties" at the head of parliament.

Meanwhile, Guaido will be in Madrid on Saturday and - although Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is not scheduled to meet with him - he insisted on framing the visit "positively" and on emphasizing the good relations he has with Spain

Guaido is continuing his European tour and spent Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he held numerous meetings with political and economic leaders from around the world, whom he asked to keep up the pressure on his country via sanctions and halting the illegal commerce in gold, which he said is helping finance the Maduro government.

At a press conference, Guaido downplayed the fact that Sanchez will not meet with him, opting to pass that task to Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya.

"We have the best relations with Spain. We have already agreed to meet with Pedro Sanchez, if we don't receive him at Miraflores to strengthen those relations," Guaido said.

He confirmed his meetings with other European leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as with Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz, along with the Greek premier, Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Guaido will travel on Friday to France and then on to Madrid.

"The aim, specifically, is to achieve a European pressure agenda to overcome the tragedy, seek the necessary support from the region and try to contain the humanitarian emergency," he said.

Guaido also played down the remarks about him made by the leader of Spain's Podemos party and current prime minister in Sanchez's government, Pablo Iglesias.

Although Spain last year recognized Guaido as acting president of Venezuela, Iglesias on Thursday called him merely a "leader of the opposition" and said that, as such, the foreign minister should receive him in Madrid and not Sanchez.

"That's the opinion of a politician," said Guaido, who preferred to focus on emphasizing his good relationship with Spain.

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