There is mounting political turmoil in Venezuela, as embattled Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro mounts a crackdown on opposition politicians.
This follows a week when the country’s top court stripped several legislators of their immunity, and the Venezuelan security forces prevented opposition politicians from entering the parliament building to attend a session on Tuesday May 14th.
The entrance was blocked by the military who said they were investigating the potential presence of an explosive device inside the national assembly building, where members of the intelligence service, wearing masks and carrying guns, were there with members of the national police and the military.
In the crackdown by Venezuela’s current president Nicolas Maduro, one opposition politician was arrested last week, and several have taken refuge in foreign embassies in Caracas, or fled the country.
It is apparent that Maduro is attempting to crush allies of opposition leader Juan Guaidó, following their failed effort to convince members of the military to rise up against Maduro in late April.
However, Guaidó, the leader of the opposition-controlled Assembly, in January invoked Venezuela's constitution to assume an interim presidency, arguing Maduro's 2018 re-election was illegitimate.
Meanwhile, more than 50 countries officially recognised him as the country's rightful leader, and say the assembly is the country’s last remaining democratic institution.
"This is all part of a show to prevent the National Assembly from functioning," legislator Juan Pablo Guanipa told Reuters, before adding, "this is a dictatorship that goes after dissidents, and we are fighting for a political change."
Venezuela's information ministry, which handles media inquiries on behalf of the government, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Maduro, a socialist, calls Guaidó a puppet of the US seeking to oust him in a coup.