Venezuela politicians exchange punches in parliament
Friday 11 February 2011
Venezuelan politicians exchanged punches in parliament yesterday when a fight erupted between members of President Hugo Chavez's socialist party and rivals, in a sign of the nation's political polarisation.
The fighting began after Socialist party politician Henry Ventura tried to remove opposition member Alfonso Marquina from the speaker's podium. They were soon joined by several other politicians and parliamentary employees who shoved and punched one another for several minutes.
No one was hurt in the melee. It was not clear who started the fisticuffs.
"We came to work in peace, like we always do, and we hope that we are not subject to aggression for the words we say, like we were just now," Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said.
The brawl was broadcast live on all Venezuela's television and radio stations via an obligatory link-up system used frequently by Chavez to air his long speeches to the nation.
The broadcast was pulled abruptly from most networks after the violence started.
Venezuelans are deeply divided by the leftist president's programme to build a socialist society in the South American country of 28 million people. Chavez's popularity will be put to the test in a 2012 presidential election when he will run again.
The new National Assembly was formed in January after elections that returned a significant opposition presence to the legislative chamber after a five-year absence.
It is the first time the two sides have worked in such close confines since the opposition boycotted parliamentary elections in 2005, giving Chavez allies free rein to pass laws.
Although the new parliament has given the opposition a platform for its views, it has been effectively neutered by Chavez, who was granted decree powers in December to fast-track laws without parliamentary approval for 18 months.
- 1 BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
General Election 2015: David Cameron catching up in polls – but he badly needs a clear lead
South Africa xenophobic attacks: Shops looted and violence on streets of Johannesburg as foreigners are forced to hide in police stations
Earthworms rain down from skies over Norway, puzzling scientists
18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
General Election 2015: Polish prince challenges Nigel Farage to a duel over immigration question
£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...
£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...