Venezuelan lawmakers hurt during punch-up in parliament

By REUTERS
May 1, 2013 04:17

 
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CARACAS - Fistfights broke out in Venezuela's parliament on Tuesday, injuring a number of legislators during an angry session linked to the South American nation's bitter election dispute.

The opposition said seven of its parliamentarians were attacked and hurt when protesting against a measure to block them from speaking in the National Assembly over their refusal to recognize President Nicolas Maduro's April 14 vote victory.

Government legislators blamed their "fascist" rivals for starting the violence, which illustrated the volatile state of politics in the OPEC nation after the death of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez last month.

The 50-year-old Maduro, who was Chavez's chosen successor, defeated opposition candidate Henrique Capriles by 1.5 percentage points. Capriles, 40, has refused to recognize his victory, alleging that thousands of irregularities were committed and the vote "stolen."

The vote exposed a nation evenly divided after 14 years of Chavez's hardline socialist rule.

"They can beat us, jail us, kill us, but we will not sell out our principles," one of the opposition parliamentarians, Julio Borges, told a local TV station, showing a bruised and bloodied face. "These blows give us more strength."

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