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happening in venezuela

Venezuela's Maduro called a 'dictator' after Supreme Court suspends legislative powers of Congress

Venezuela's Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday it would take over the functions of Congress, leading the opposition party to label President Nicolas Maduro a "dictator" on Thursday.

Opposition parties won a majority in the National Assembly in 2015, and since then, the court has overturned most of the legislature's decisions, Reuters reports. In its ruling, the court said, "As long as the situation of contempt in the National Assembly continues, this constitutional chamber guarantees congressional functions will be exercised by this chamber of another chosen organ." The court says the assembly is in contempt because three former lawmakers were accused of buying votes, and parliamentary leaders did not properly handle the case.

Maduro's critics say he is trying to consolidate power and keep the opposition down. National Assembly President Julio Borges said Maduro "has carried out a coup d'etat. This is a dictatorship." Maduro's term is up in January 2019, and he is unpopular due to the country's economic crisis, lack of food and medicine, and high inflation. Several countries in Latin America have spoken out against what's happening in Venezuela, and Maduro, a protégé of the late leftist leader Hugo Chavez, has said there is a "right-wing regional pact" against his government. The United States has called the Supreme Court's move a "serious setback for democracy in Venezuela."