Maduro Sets Sights on Venezuelan Congress

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s Socialist Party announced on Monday that its lawmakers are taking back their seats in Venezuela’s congress after a three-year boycott, targeting the power base of the President’s chief rival, The New York Times reported.

The congress is led by Juan Guaido, who in January claimed to be the country’s rightful president, and it is the only governing body not under Maduro’s control.

The re-entry of the Socialist legislators threatens not only the independence of congress but also the platform Guaido has used to build his legitimacy domestically and internationally as he challenges Maduro’s presidency.

The ruling party’s announcement is the latest step in an increasingly complex nine-month political struggle between Maduro and Guaido. While Maduro retains control of the military and the government bureaucracy, Guaido draws on popular support and recognition from the United States and nearly 60 other countries.

Guaido’s attempts to unseat Maduro this year through mass protests, military defections, American sanctions, and mediated talks have run up against the government’s brutal repression and skillful political maneuvering, resulting in a tense impasse, the Times added.

The congress has been the main source of the opposition’s international legitimacy since opposition candidates won a two-thirds majority in parliamentary elections in 2015. Maduro’s loyalists had responded by leaving the congress, stripping away its powers and hounding dozens of opposition lawmakers into exile.

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