Hundreds of Venezuelans rallied in Caracas Thursday to protest right-wing lawmakers’ orders to remove portraits of the late President Hugo Chavez from the National Assembly. A video emerged Wednesday showing Henry Ramos Allup, the newly sworn-in National Assembly president, demanding the removal of the portraits of Chavez and liberator Simon Bolivar.
Several socialist lawmakers took part in the protests, which were organized after politician Jorge Rodriguez put out a call on his Twitter account for demonstrations against the disrespectful treatment of the portraits, TeleSUR reported.
“Take [the portrait of Chavez], his widow, his daughters ... take all that crap to the [Presidential Palace] or the garbage,” Ramos Allup said in the video.
— Víctor Amaya (@victoramaya) January 6, 2016
The incident comes after the right-wing opposition coalition was sworn in to the Venezuelan legislature Tuesday. The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) coalition won a two-thirds supermajority in the country’s elections last month in a severe defeat for President Nicolas Maduro’s United Socialist Party. The country is weathering an economic crisis that has triggered fierce criticism of Maduro’s leadership. Ramos Allup has said the main priority of his assembly is ousting Maduro within six months.
Maduro has condemned the removal of the Chavez and Bolivar portraits from the National Assembly hall.
“I have received calls from across the country — social leaders, governors, political leaders, lawmakers from the Homeland Bloc, soldiers. I have received calls of outrage at what Mr. Ramos Allup has done to our liberator Simon Bolivar, expelling him from the National Assembly,” he said.
The MUD coalition provoked scrutiny earlier this week when all 112 members proceeded with their swearing in at the National Assembly, despite three of them being suspended due to an inquiry into electoral fraud. Lawmakers have said the three members being sworn in violates the country’s constitution and voids all decisions made by the National Assembly while the lawmakers remains seated.