The latest string of violent attacks on peaceful protesters by the Venezuelan government came to a head last night as reports and videos on social media surfaced of special forces attacking young protesters on the streets and raiding student residential buildings.
Unofficial reports and uploaded YouTube videos began trickling onto the internet late Wednesday night/early Thursday morning that the National Guard had begun persecuting protesters on the streets and in their homes. Venezuelan blogger Audrey Dacosta wrote up the first and most moving report of what was occurring on the streets of a number of major Venezuelan cities, including the capital, Caracas. Despite the fact that the government has all but forbidden coverage of any violence against civilians by any professional media (including the opposition), “You don’t need the media to hear your neighbor’s screams,” she writes.
Dacosta reported that the National Guard was spraying tear gas into residential buildings to lure out protesters and shooting at them directly once they were outside. Aside from the official attacks, an unofficial group of “colectivos,” which she describes as “paramilitary gangs on motorbikes,” were shooting bullets directly at groups of protesters.
Her report was quickly followed by a number of shocking, graphic videos of injured Venezuelans on the streets being attacked by the National Guard. Below are two videos–one of a protester immediately after being attacked by the National Guard, and another of the National Guard shooting at civilians (warning: graphic and violent unedited images):
Argentine news outlet Infobae reports that at least fourteen were injured last night, though the ultimate toll is still unknown. Injuries include everything from lacerations, bullet wounds, and severe burns. Some of those injured were hurt by the use of tear gas spray into buildings towards residents who were in the privacy of their own homes.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced yesterday evening that he planned to “reinforce” the country’s armed forces to “fight against the fascists” and “CNN.” He also mentioned the fate of opposition leader Leopoldo López, whom he arrested on terrorism and murder charges this Tuesday, triggering the violence. Despite both of those charges being dropped, López faces 10 years in prison and is not set for release anytime soon. “He is going to be held accountable for his actions– I said ‘he is going to jail’ and so it was and so I will do with all fascists,” Maduro said of López, who is not a fascist and an active participant in events hosted by the Socialist International.
López’s wife, Lilian Tintori, has taken control of her husband’s Twitter account to send messages on his behalf. Last night, she tweeted a message to the National Guard soldiers: “To the honest soldiers, I know that you share the ideals of our liberator [Simón Bolívar]: Cursed be the soldier who aims his weapons against his people.”