The violent repression of anti-socialist student activists in Venezuela continues, with Nicolás Maduro increasingly desperate to quell the uprising against his post-Chávez regime. While rallies around the world called for an end to the violence, the death toll rose to ten, and an estimated 500 students have faced police brutality for political reasons.
Argentine outlet Infobae reported this Saturday that 23-year-old Geraldine Moreno Orozco became the official tenth victim of Maduro’s oppression, dying in the hospital of a deep gunshot wound to her face that never healed. Venezuelan television network Globovisión reports that Moreno Orozco was not participating in the protests, but merely watching them from the outside of her home when a National Guard soldier walked up to her and shot her.
Her cousin, Lisbeth Medía, narrated the last moment’s of Moreno Orozco’s life: “She turned around when there were people running behind her, and she fell because they shot her near her face,” she explained. “When she tried to get up, they shot her in the face again, and it was at that moment when they completely destroyed her face.”
Moreno Orozco is officially the tenth victim of state violence in Venezuela. The deaths of the nine others are still under investigation. Maduro has claimed that one student killed, Danny Vargas, was the victim of a robbery, though Venezuelans on social media have published video that alleges to show National Guard forces taking the man’s life in the city of Táchira:
The deaths of young Venezuelans for expressing their right to assemble freely are not the end of the abuses of the Venezuelan government. With Popular Will Party leader Leopoldo López imprisoned for organizing the initial protest that triggered this latest bout of violence, former presidential candidate (and likely legitimate winner of the last two Venezuelan presidential elections) Henrique Capriles Radonski has taken the helm of the opposition movement. Capriles is alleging that at least 500 students have become victims of police brutality in the past week, tweeting, “There are more than 500 allegations of excesses of force and brutal repression, one example is student Carlos Tejada who lost an eye to a teargas bomb:”
Van más de 500 denuncias por excesos y represión brutal,ejemplo estudiante Carlos Tejada que perdió un ojo con una bomba lacrimógena
— Henrique Capriles R. (@hcapriles) February 23, 2014
Other abuses of power include beatings, head concussions made by rifle attacks, broken ribs, and burns, according to Infobae.
Saturday was a milestone day for the anti-socialist protests in and about Venezuela. Jailed opposition leader Leopoldo López, through his wife Lilian Tintori, called for international rallies in support of economic and expressive freedoms in Venezuela, and cities worldwide heeded the call. February 22 protests occurred in Dubai, Sydney, Oslo, Rome, Jakarta, Tenerife, London, and Oklahoma City, among many others.
The increased visibility of the violence in Venezuela has led Maduro to release a constant stream of seemingly contradictory statements. He condemned Secretary of State John Kerry for “giving the green light to violence” by releasing a statement that he was “concerned” with the violence in the country. He followed up his anti-“imperialist” rhetoric by requesting a sit-down with President Obama. The situation for the media in the country has also become more dire, as Maduro alleges that “fascist” media outlets are lying to the people. Late last week, Maduro expelled CNN from the country for airing footage of the National Guard abuse, which he labeled “war propaganda.”