OAS chief denounces coup in Venezuela

OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro participates in the Democratic Solidarity in Latin America meeting in Mexico City, on March 30, 2017

The head of the Organization of American States denounced as a coup a move Thursday by Venezuela's Supreme Court to assume for itself the powers of the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

The Supreme Court's order on the National Assembly and another that stripped members of the assembly of parliamentary immunity are "the latest blows with which the regime subverts the constitutional order of the country and puts an end to democracy," said OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro.

The denunciation from the OAS comes after the Supreme Court seized legislative powers from Venezuela's opposition-majority National Assembly, whose speaker declared a "coup."

The high court, whose judges have staunchly backed leftist president Nicolas Maduro in a power struggle with the legislature, based its decision on an earlier ruling that the opposition majority was in contempt of court.

Political analysts had warned the ruling was a sharp authoritarian turn for the South American oil giant, where a crushing economic crisis has caused food shortages, riots and an epidemic of violent crime.

The ruling came a day after the OAS held a special meeting where 20 countries voiced concern about the situation in Venezuela, drawing a furious reaction from Maduro.