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Venezuela's Socialists snatch congress from Guaido

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On Sunday (January 5) Venezuela's ruling Socialists seized congress and handed the leadership to their own lawmaker Luis Parra.

The move is a gambit to cement Maduro's hold on power and sidelines the man who staked a rival claim to the presidency, Juan Guaido.

Guaido served as opposition leader, but this move takes away the job that lets him challenge Maduro.

On Sunday, Guaido was blocked from entering the building.

Troops stopped him with riot shields and force.

But that didn't stop him from scaling the fence, attempting to push through the National guard.

Guaido is recognized by more than 50 countries as Venezuela's legitimate leader while Maduro is widely unpopular, but has clung to power with military support.

Opposition leaders had expected to vote Guaido in for a second term Sunday.

But with Guaido out of the picture, Parra wasted no time and launched into a victory speech:

(SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) VENEZUELAN LEGISLATOR, LUIS PARRA, SAYING:

"We want to open the doors to the future of this parliament. We have to reengage, like all siblings there are fights, but we're required to look for a solution in this parliament. Like all siblings we have our differences, but we must stop with this confrontation."

Parra was expelled from his party last year.

He and other legislators are part of a corruption scandal linked to president Maduro.

Opposition lawmakers say Parra's swearing-in was invalid, and call it a "parliamentary coup."

It was also condemned by the U.S., EU and a dozen Latin American countries.

Opposition leaders say this incident is further evidence of President Maduro obstructing democracy with force.

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