Venezuela lawmakers opposed to President Maduro avoid efforts to hold congress session

Venezuelan lawmakers opposed to socialist President Nicolás Maduro scuttled efforts Tuesday to reach national Congress, seeking to avoid confrontation with armed groups and security forces blocking the way.

The lawmakers have been blocked for three weeks from accessing the National Assembly, the last major national institution under opposition control and the center of the struggle over who governs the crisis-wracked nation.

But a clash with Maduro gun-toting supporters could happen next week.

That’s when Juan Pablo Guanipa, 1st vice president of the National Assembly, wants supporters to assist lawmakers in retaking Congress.

Lawmaker Luis Parra, center, who broke with opposition leader Juan Guaido and claims the presidency of the National Assembly, leaves after leading a session at the National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Lawmaker Luis Parra, center, who broke with opposition leader Juan Guaido and claims the presidency of the National Assembly, leaves after leading a session at the National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

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“We are going to show them that we are fighting for the freedom of Venezuela,” Guanipa said. “We'll demonstrate, as we always have, that we're absolutely ready to do whatever is required to achieve democracy in Venezuela.”

The United States and about 60 other nations recognize National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela's constitutional president, calling Maduro's 2018 reelection a result of voter fraud.

Guaidó, however, has no control over government institutions or the military.

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Guaidó met Monday in Colombia with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and was in London on Tuesday to meet British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

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Maduro´s government was shoring up its own international backing, as Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza met with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.