Opposition Deputy Julio Borges went on TV with blood streaming down his face and a swollen eye. It was the third time he has been physically attacked on the floor. His colleague, María Corina Machado, said she was knocked to the ground and kicked by a ruling-party deputy. She attended Wednesday’s march with a neck brace and bruises.
Maduro condemned the violence Wednesday but said the opposition had instigated it when they went to the assembly with a “paralyzer,” an apparatus that he said emitted a “gas that they were intending to throw on the deputies’ faces.”
He said the government would release videos of the altercation that proved Borges was one of the aggressors.
On Wednesday, Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma accused Maduro of using the legislature and the courts to install a “neo-dictatorship.”
“The parliament is the heart of a democracy,” he told Globovisión during Wednesday’s march. “If you rip the heart out of a person they cease to exist. If you break the back of the parliament you are giving the democratic system a death blow.”
At the opposition march, which was concentrated in the more affluent eastern side of the capital, many waved placards of Antonio Rivero, a former general and member of the Voluntad Popular party, who was jailed Saturday. The government is accusing the one-time Chávez ally of inciting violence that led to at least eight deaths after the election. His supporters say he was framed on flimsy evidence as part of a government witch-hunt to silence critics.
On the other side of the city, red-clad supporters of Maduro clogged the streets, many waving banners of Chávez, the socialist firebrand who often used May Day to celebrate his “Bolivarian Revolution.”
Emmanuel Dorfey, a 47-year-old visual artist, said the opposition was trying to provoke chaos after losing at the polls.
“They’re just cheats, refusing to recognize they lost. … They and the imperialists want violence to stop the revolution,” he said. “But they will never steal this election from us. The people won’t allow it.”
Miami Herald Special Correspondent Andrew Rosati contributed to this report from Caracas.