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Venezuela opposition takes control of Congress

Wednesday, January 06, 2016 - 01:36

Members of Venezuela's opposition, newly-elected into Congress, are sworn in during a rowdy session, bringing with them a legislative majority for the opposition for the first time in 16 years. Rough Cut - Subtitled (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT - SUBTITLED (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Venezuela's opposition took control of Congress for the first time in 16 years on Tuesday in a rowdy session, setting up a power struggle with President Nicolas Maduro amid a worsening economic crisis. The Democratic Unity coalition won a two-thirds majority in December's legislative election by capitalizing on anger over a shrinking economy, soaring prices and chronic product shortages reminiscent of Soviet-bloc economies. Maduro has dismissed the new assembly as "right-wing" and "bourgeois," and accuses the opposition of preparing to roll back social programs created by late socialist President Hugo Chavez. Veteran opposition legislator Henry Ramos was elected the new head of Congress in a session in which the two sides chanted slogans at one another and traded charges of corruption and betrayal. Ramos flaunted the opposition's newfound control over the legislature by abruptly cutting off one Socialist Party deputy's diatribe against the opposition, saying he had run out of time. When heckled by another socialist deputy over a procedural complaint, Ramos brushed him aside by saying "Take it easy, congressman, things have changed here." The Dec. 6 election gave the opposition its most decisive victory since Chavez took power in 1999. His generous spending of oil revenue had made him nearly invincible at the polls during his 14-year rule. Maduro, a former bus driver and Chavez's anointed successor, has struggled since his election in 2013 to match the latter's charisma. His government has repeatedly balked at implementing broad economic reforms despite promising them. On Tuesday, reporters interviewed deputies and walked freely on the floor of Congress for the first time in years, a practice that had been prohibited by the socialist leadership. A portrait of late Chavez that hung in the main congressional chamber, a symbol of what critics call illegal politicization of public institutions, was removed.

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Venezuela opposition takes control of Congress

Wednesday, January 06, 2016 - 01:36