The Venezuelan National Guard actively aims to disfigure the faces of protesters as their repressive acts torture, injure, and kill dozens of anti-socialist student protesters. Survivors of government attacks tell Latin American news outlets that police shoot for their faces, kick, or bludgeon them with rifles.
Argentine news outlet Infobae, which has been on the cutting edge of covering the recent crop of uprisings in the South American nation, published a graphic image today of 20-year-old protester Maurizio Ottaviani, who was attending a protest in Venezuela when the National Guard appeared, and four soldiers, he explained to the publication, “beat me and forced me to the ground … My instinct was to get into a fetal position to protect myself. They kicked me in the stomach, back, and because of the pain I failed to protect my face.” He continued by saying, “One of them used his boot heel to step on the left side of my face.”
Ottaviani was arrested with other protesters, whom he says were threatened with asphyxia by teargas if they did not stay quiet. He is no longer legally allowed his right of assembly after appearing before a judge in Caracas. “Venezuela is worth it,” he said.
Protesters retweeted the photo of what the guards did to him:
Photo Source: Twitter
Ottaviani is not alone, but there have been too many cases of such attacks for all of them to make headlines. A Venezuelan government official claimed there were 44 cases of lawsuits against the state for torture, and currently 21 deaths. That official, public defender Gabriela Ramírez, justified the attacks by telling Venezuelan newspaper El Universal that “torture makes sense.”
Maduro has actively censored independent media, forcing protesters to share their stories on social media while state media ignores the protests, and CNN gives Maduro a platform to tell people he sleeps “like a baby” at night. A cursory look at Venezuelan protesters on Twitter immediately uncovers an organized attempt to beat the protesters into submission. The photos quickly reveal a pattern: President Nicolás Maduro’s soldiers deliberately target the faces of protesters to disfigure them and possibly shame them into not showing their faces. Below are just some of the survivors–not victims, for they kept protesting–of Maduro’s repression. (Warning: graphic photos below):
— DaGaV (@DaliaGavi) March 6, 2014
SOS Venezuela publícalo Patricia, este es el hijo de un vecino, golpeado por la GNB en Puerto Ordaz, Ub. Las Garzas pic.twitter.com/NRT8uXZ9rc
— Hector Velasquez (@hectorve6) March 5, 2014
— La Causa R Bolivar (@LaCausaRBolivar) February 15, 2014
— Angela E Vera Lefeld (@Uguelo) March 4, 2014
— Avi Quijada (@AviQuijada) March 6, 2014
In one case that made international headlines because of the graphic accompanying video, a soldier sat on a female protester and beat her face with a metal helmet. That woman, Marvinia Jimenez, continues to protest today, despite her arrest and injuries.
The Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) does not just beat the faces of protesters; in many cases, those who have been killed have been shot in the face. Women, particularly, have fallen victim to this especially abhorrent execution style. It serves a practical purpose for the government: preventing families from having open caskets at funerals, which prevents protesters from distributing moving photos of the young women the government has savagely executed. The first case of such an act was 22-year-old beauty queen Genesis Carmona, shot in the face in her home state of Carabobo for attending a protest. On Tuesday, Chilean national Giselle Rubilar became the first foreign national to die protesting against Maduro’s totalitarian regime, shot in the eye by a National Guard soldier.