The Venezuelan government apparently plans to file criminal charges against the main opposition leader, Henrique Capriles Radonski, according to public statements made by the National Assembly speaker following a heated session on Tuesday.
Diosdado Cabello, who is considered the second most powerful man in Venezuela, had announced in his Twitter account before the session began that no one should miss it.
The National Assembly, dominated by lawmakers from the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), the late Hugo Chávez’s formation, was called upon to discuss a petition by President Nicolás Maduro filed late Monday asking for special powers to combat corruption. The Venezuelan leader did not explain why he was asking for these additional executive privileges.
While there were other matters on the agenda for lawmakers to consider – such as a cooperation treaty with North Korea and another surprising petition from the government to replace the Venezuelan Central Bank (BCV) chief – the session came to a climax when a debate was started by PSUV lawmakers over alleged corrupt activities by a close advisor to Capriles.
Police last week raided the home of Óscar López, who serves as chief of staff to Capriles, the governor of Miranda state. López has not been told why he is under investigation.
Mudslinging by the PSUV started when lawmakers began placing on record evidence seized from López’s home, including receipts and personal photographs. One photo reportedly shows López hugging other men, some of whom are in drag.
Police raided the home last week of the chief of staff to Capriles
According to PSUV deputy José Luis Ávila, who turned over the photo, the evidence proves that López is involved with a prostitution gang and drug traffickers. A heated debate broke out between the opposition and the PSUV, whose deputies made personal attacks on Capriles over rumors of his homosexuality.
PSUV deputy Pedro Carreño, chairman of the comptroller’s committee and a former army officer, said that the opposition Justice First (PJ) bloc has become a gay cartel that “promotes promiscuity and prostitution.”
Answering allegations made by Capriles who wrote in his Twitter account that Carreño was expelled from the army for mismanaging funds, the PSUV challenged him to present proof of his claims. “Accept the challenge, faggot,” he said.
Instead of calling his fellow party member to order, Cabello congratulated him for standing up to Capriles and said that the Miranda state governor has managed a budget of 15 billion bolivares ($2.4 billion) over the past five years without a public infrastructure project to show for it.
“Don’t underestimate us,” Cabello said from the speaker’s bench. “At the right given moment, the hands of justice will wrap themselves around that murderer fascist [Henrique] Capriles Radonski.”
The Maduro government has publicly blamed Capriles and his supporters for instigating violence that caused the deaths of at least nine people following the April 14 elections. Capriles has announced that he will file appeals at the international forums to impugn the election in which he was narrowly defeated by Maduro. He claims that a host of irregularities were committed at ballot boxes throughout the country.