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Washington, January 6, 2020 —  In response to the Maduro regime’s forcible interference with a vote for president of the National Assembly, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“The use of force in a bid to seize control of the National Assembly, Venezuela’s last democratically elected institution, is a brazen new addition to the Maduro regime’s long record of violating the rule of law and basic political rights,” said Deborah Ullmer, director of Latin America programs at Freedom House. “By blocking opposition lawmakers from participating in the vote and suppressing media coverage of the event, the regime reinforced its systematic efforts to restrict freedom of information and consolidate its authoritarian grip on power. The international community must condemn these actions and combat Maduro’s efforts to silence democratically elected voices.”

Background

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On January 5, Venezuelan lawmakers loyal to Nicolás Maduro installed Luis Parra as the new president of the National Assembly, ostensibly replacing opposition-backed incumbent Juan Guaidó. The vote was carried out without a quorum, as the Venezuelan National Guard physically prevented opposition lawmakers, including Guaidó, from entering the building and participating. In response, opposition lawmakers met separately in another location to reelect Guaidó. In January 2019, the National Assembly had named him the interim president of Venezuela; the chamber’s majority found that Maduro’s recent reelection had been illegitimate and cited a constitutional provision calling for the National Assembly’s president to serve as interim leader in the event of a power vacuum. Maduro and Guaidó have remained in a tense political standoff since then.

Venezuela is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2019 and Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2019.

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights. www.freedomhouse.org