Machado: Diosdado Cabello laughed as they attacked us
Opposition lawmaker María Corina Machado said that when she approached the podium of the Congress Speaker to request the right to speak, Deputy. Nancy Ascensio grabbed her from behind and threw to the floor, where the assault continued
According to Machado, Congress Speaker Diosdado Cabello, a top leader of ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), laughed as she was punched while she was on the floor.
Machado explained that when when she approached the podium of the Congress Speaker to request the right to speak, Deputy. Nancy Ascensio grabbed her from behind and threw to the floor, where the assault continued. "Diosdado Cabello smiled as we were attacked," she said.
Another pro-government lawmaker who attacked his opposition counterparts was Claudio Farías, according to Machado. The assault began when dissenters displayed a banner reading "Parliamentary Coup" and blowed whistles and vuvuzelas to reject Cabello's decision to deny them the right to speak.
During a press conference, Machado said that, despite the attack, opposition lawmakers would not withdraw from the National Assembly. "We will not abandon the National Assembly, we will be back stronger," she said.
She added that Américo de Grazia, an opposition deputy who was unconscious after being punched and pushed down some stairs, was hospitalized.
For his part, opposition lawmaker Julio Borges, who was punched on his face and left eye, said the deputies representing the opposition coalition would not attend a meeting convened by the pro-government bloc for Wednesday May 1 at 8 am in the morning. He called for concrete actions to restore order in Parliament.
According to Borges, the onslaught against opposition representatives is a blow to democracy in Venezuela. "We did not come here to show the punches on our bodies. We came here to say that Venezuela has been battered, that democracy has been battered today," said Borges.
"These punches do not hurt me. They make me and my fellow lawmakers stronger to keep fighting for a better future," he added.
Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Brazil on March 13 to demand the ouster of embattled President Dilma Rousseff, carrying banners expressing anger at bribery scandals and economic woes. A banner read "We don't want a new Venezuela in Brazil."