Mob Storms Venezuela’s National Assembly, Beating Maduro Opponents

The assault came amid an intensifying political fight over Mr. Maduro’s bid to convene a constituent assembly that could render the elected National Assembly powerless. The standoff has stoked unprecedented violence in recent days.

Earlier on Wednesday, a Venezuelan police officer who staged a brazen attack from a commandeered government helicopter last week warned of a “new phase” in a would-be insurrection against the government of Mr. Maduro.

The officer, Óscar Pérez, said in a video posted online that his helicopter attack on June 27 was a success, inflicting structural damage on the Supreme Court and Interior Ministry buildings in Caracas, the capital, without leaving any “collateral damage.”

“We are not assassins, like you, Nicolás Maduro,” Mr. Pérez said, pointing his finger at the camera. After the attack, he said, he made an emergency landing in a remote area and returned to Caracas.

Venezuelans have reacted to the subplot that Mr. Pérez has introduced to Venezuela’s crisis with a mix of bemusement and suspicion. The elite officer, who has dabbled in acting, was vague about what he called “the second phase of our plan.” No evidence has surfaced to suggest that he leads any significant dissident group in the security forces, as he claimed to do in a video posted on the day of the attack.

Some Venezuelans even suspect that he could be a plant by the government, used to justify harsher tactics against dissenters and to divert attention from an escalating power struggle among senior government officials.

In recent days, a rift has widened between Mr. Maduro and his attorney general, Luisa Ortega, who sharpened her criticism of the president’s plan to let a constituent assembly of handpicked loyalists to write a new Constitution. The effort is widely seen as a ploy by a deeply unpopular leader to consolidate power by disbanding the National Assembly, which is controlled by his opponents. Ms. Ortega has denounced the constituent assembly plan as an affront to the country’s democratic principles.

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The Supreme Court, which is loyal to the president, held a hearing on Tuesday that was expected to lead to Ms. Ortega’s removal; she refused to attend. The court and the National Assembly made dueling nominations for deputy attorney general on Tuesday, making it unclear who would replace Ms. Ortega if she was removed.

In the latest video, Mr. Pérez is seen sitting against a white wall with a Venezuelan flag in the background and a short-barreled rifle by his side. Looking gaunt, he calls for action against Mr. Maduro, whose socialist government is supported by the communist government of Cuba.

“Stop talking, take to the streets,” he says. “If this constitutional assembly is held, Venezuela will be no more. We will have ceded the country to the Cubans.”

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