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Venezuela's congress puts Maduro on trial

Opposition-controlled parliament in Venezuela has launched a political trial against President Nicolas Maduro for breaking constitutional order. In turn, the president accused the lawmakers of a "parliamentary coup."

Maduro decried the "parliamentary coup" on Tuesday, after the National Assembly voted to put him on trial for violating the democratic order.

"Congress is useless for our people's interests," he told his supporters at a rally outside the presidential palace. "It has a single goal: to damage Venezuela."

The lawmakers demand that the president face charges of "abandoning his post" and "criminal and political responsibility" for the worsening crisis in the South American country. During the Tuesday session, the opposition-controlled Congress summoned Maduro to answer before the body next week.

However, the political trial is likely to remain a symbolic gesture as the parliament has no authority to impeach the president in Venezuela. This power is reserved for the government-stacked Supreme Court. The same court had previously declared the Congress' decisions illegitimate due to three lawmakers being linked to vote-buying claims.

Maduro is expected to ignore the lawmakers' summon and any decisions against him.

Last week, the country's electoral authority suspended a drive by Venezuela's opposition to collect enough signatures to force a recall referendum against Maduro. The electoral commission claims the opposition used fraud to gather some signatures. Government opponents slammed the suspension as a regime "coup."

US president 'swiping his tail'

In his speech at the Tuesday rally, the 52-year-old Maduro said the opposition lawmakers were acting as if they were in a "circus." He also accused the US of running a conspiracy against his government and said US President Barack Obama was "obsessed" with destroying Venezuela.

"Obama is going, and before he leaves, he wants to cause Venezuela damage," he said. "This is Obama swiping his tail before he leaves."

The socialist leader also said he has called a high-level security meeting for tomorrow morning to evaluate the "coup" against him.

Recent polls show that more than 75 percent of Venezuelans disapprove of Maduro. The opposition has called for nationwide anti-government protests on Wednesday.

Protests in Miami

In show of solidarity with the opposition alliance against Maduro, Venezuelans in Miami will gather in a “civic concentration” on Wednesday, the same day that massive protests have been called for in Venezuela’s twenty-four states.

The protests in the United States and in Venezuela oppose the recent rejection of a referendum that would have challenged Maduro’s presidency.

The Florida demonstration will take place during the afternoon at the Paseo de la Artes de Doral, a city with a large Venezuelan population in the Miami-Dade county. Various civil groups including Voluntad Popular, an international branch of the likewise-named Venezuelan political party, will participate. 

cb, dj/gsw, rs (AP, Reuters, EFE)

 

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