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Partisan politics leads to parliamentary punch-up in Venezuela

 

Leo Ramirez / AFP - Getty Images

Opposition deputy Julio Borges (C) walks out after a fight with the ruling party deputies inside the Venezuelan parliament, in Caracas on April 30, 2013.

Loud insults turned into to heavy pushing, punches, kicks and scuffling in the Venezuelan parliament Tuesday, the continuing fall-out of recent elections has infuriated half the country.

As political disagreements became physical, seven opposition legislators were reportedly injured as the result of the heated session.

"They can beat us, jail us, kill us, but we will not sell out our principles," Julio Borges, an opposition parliamentarian, told a local TV station while visibly enraged with blood dripping down his face. "These blows give us more strength."

The opposition claims its representatives were physically attacked while protesting against being blocked from speaking in the National Assembly.

But the socialist government in power, with President Nicolas Maduro having grabbed leadership after Hugo Chavez death, accused the “fascist” opposition legislators of having started the brawl.

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 the victory, alleging that thousands of irregularities were committed and the vote "stolen."

The fracas came after the government-controlled assembly passed a measure denying opposition members the right to speak in the chamber until they recognized Maduro as president.

"Until they recognize the authorities, the institutions of the Republic, the sovereign will of our people, the opposition deputies will have to go and speak (to the private media) but not here in this National Assembly," said Diosdado Cabello, the head of parliament.

Since the election, at least eight people have died in street protests and dozens have been arrested. Maduro has publicly stated that he believes the opposition is planning a coup.

Reuters contributed to this report