CARACAS – The Venezuelan opposition group backed by the United States will file a complaint with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for the physical attack its leader suffered over the weekend during a visit to a rural community as part of a tour meant to unite his party and allies.
Juan Guaidó on Tuesday blamed the altercation on President Nicolas Maduro, presenting photos from Saturday's attack that he said showed associates of Venezuela’s ruling party.
“What those of us who are here are not going to do is get used to that language of hate, to the violence perpetrated by the dictatorship,” Guaidó said at a news conference. “We are not only going to denounce (the attack) in institutions today hijacked by the dictatorship, but in the corresponding international institutions.”
Venezuela’s judicial system has effectively become a branch of the executive, playing a decisive role in Venezuelan politics with a host of unfavorable sentences against critics of the socialist government.
A photo released after Satuday’s attack showed Guaidó being held back as people gather around him and someone rips his shirt off. He said at least two people were injured; one has a wrist injury and another has a concussion.
The altercation happened at a plant nursery in San Carlos, a community about 168 miles (270 kilometers) southwest of Caracas, the capital, during a gathering of opposition leaders. Guaidó is touring the country as his party and allies organize for a planned 2023 primary election.
Maduro, who on Tuesday arrived in Qatar as part of a multi-stop trip in Europe and Asia, has made no comments on the attack. Diosdado Cabello, leader of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, on Monday suggested the attack involved members of Voluntad Popular, Guaidó’s party.
“Do not blame us. Where they pass through, they generate violence,” Cabello said referring to the opposition party. “They themselves are the ones who generate their acts of violence, their fights, and then, they want to blame the rest of Venezuela.”
The incident took place a week after Guaidó’s supporters were met by a barrage of flying plastic chairs and fisticuffs from Maduro allies in the western city of Maracaibo.
The U.S. and other nations recognize Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president. They withdrew recognition of Maduro after accusing him of rigging his 2018 re-election as president.
At the time, Guaidó drew enormous crowds of backers into the streets, but much of the momentum has evaporated.
Since Saturday, officials in the U.S. and other countries that back Guaidó have demanded that the attack on the opposition leader be investigated.
Associated Press writer Shaylim Valderrama contributed to this report.