Caracas, Apr 1 (EFE).- The head of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled Parliament, Juan Guaido, who has been recognized as the country’s legitimate president by more than 50 nations, said Monday that the Supreme Court’s request to lift his parliamentary immunity lacks validity.
“There’s no lifting of immunity of any kind because … (such a request) is invalid,” the opposition leader told reporters at the close of a public event in downtown Caracas a few hours after the high court’s decision became known.
Supreme Court (TSJ) Chief Justice Maikel Moreno announced Monday that he had declared Guaido to be in “contempt” for having flouted a prohibition on leaving Venezuela imposed on him, adding that he had asked the government-supporting National Constitutional Assembly (ANC) to “cancel” his parliamentary immunity.
Guaido said that the TSJ’s magistrates had not ruled that his immunity must be lifted but rather “bounced” the matter to the government-backing ANC, a legislative forum that is not recognized by the opposition or by numerous countries.
“This is persecution, dictatorship … Have no doubt that they want to see me under arrest. It’s clear that they want to do it … but there’s no worry about that,” Guaido said.
The parliamentary chief said that the TSJ decision came after the Nicolas Maduro government took issue with the dozens of anti-government protests staged on Sunday against the widespread power blackouts that began to come much more frequently starting on March 7.
“What bothers them is that we’re calling people to the street and the people (have) turned out … We’re going to continue moving along the path towards freedom, toward the end of the usurpation” of power, which is how Guaido and the opposition refer to Maduro’s inauguration in mid-
January to a second six-year term in office.
A few minutes before Guaido spoke a group of unidentified people set off a tear gas canister near the site.
Later, while the politician was speaking, EFE noted three explosions near the site, although no further details were immediately available about their location or cause.
Attorney General Tarek Saab has been pursuing an investigation of Guaido ever since the latter proclaimed himself interim president on Jan. 23, a week after Maduro’s re-inauguration, invoking constitutional articles against the usurpation of power that he, the opposition and many foreign nations claim has been perpetrated by Maduro.
The countries backing Guaido, including the United States and most of the members of the European Union, do not recognize the legitimacy of Maduro’s second term, given that he won re-election last May in a presidential contest from which key opposition politicos were banned.