Report: Venezuelan Police Have Arrested 1,900, One Protester Every Half Hour
The situation for opponents of Nicolás Maduro's socialist regime continues to worsen after weeks of constant protesting. Argentine outlet Infobae reports that the government has been arresting one protester every 35 minutes.
Infobae notes that little more than half of those arrested since the detention of opposition Popular Will party leader Leopoldo López have been freed. Many of those released have told the outlet that they have been "presented at tribunals with little time to speak to lawyers, coerced into signing papers, or accused with false evidence of 'fabricated' charges." Many others have accused the government of beating or torturing them.
One Venezuelan deputy has estimated the total number of arrests at 1,900 since López was sent to prison, according to newspaper El Universal. The arrests have included hundreds of protesters, but in recent days, the focus has been on public figures aligned with the opposition. Maduro arrested two opposition mayors and three generals in the past two weeks. He also expelled a congresswoman from her position, without explaining what laws she had violated.
San Cristóbal, the town run by one of the mayors, is now under full martial law. The college town located near the Colombian border has been considered the most active stronghold of the opposition in the nation. Spanish newspaper ABC published a series of moving images of the state of decay that martial law has brought to the city. Despite limited Internet access, residents of San Cristóbal continue to publish images and video of military and paramilitary shooting at peaceful protesters:
The congresswoman expelled last week, National Assembly member María Corina Machado, vowed to return to the National Assembly and do her job anyway. Machado has not had the chance to honor her promise to return, as the Assembly has not been in session. That should change Tuesday because Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, who expelled Machado, has called for a new session. Her expulsion from the legislature was a response to her visit to Washington, D.C., where she traveled to urge the Organization of American States to intervene in Venezuela. Stripping her of her legislative title removes legislative immunity. This has caused many to expect her arrest Tuesday.
As both laypersons and public officials continue to struggle against his regime, Maduro continues to make public appearances condemning the opposition for their outspokenness. In public statements Sunday, Maduro called opposition leaders "cowards" who "do not show their faces." He accused them of working to "convince the youth to take to the streets and burn and kill."
It has been 59 days since Leopoldo López showed his face to Maduro's military and was arrested for speaking out against the government.
The death toll in Venezuela, according to Infobae, is now 39.