Venezuela: Chavista Beats Journalists Covering Violent Gangs Attacking Opposition

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Getty Images

A Venezuelan journalist and photographer were beaten in front of the National Assembly, the nation’s legislature, on Tuesday by a member of the nation’s Socialist Party (PSUV), as they tried to cover the swearing in ceremony for the new, opposition-run assembly.

Journalist Eduardo Ríos y el fotógrafo Antonio Posteraro, of the online publication La Patilla, were reporting outside the nation’s legislative body Tuesday when a man attacked them, bludgeoning Ríos’ face and leaving Posteraro with some bruising. Ríos was immediately taken to paramedics in the area for care. Photos of Ríos following the attack began to circulate rapidly among anti-socialists on Twitter:

Ríos tweeted last night that he found himself in good condition: “Good evening everyone, I am doing well, thank you for worrying and for the support you gave me today.” He has since continued his coverage of the events in the National Assembly, where the newly-sworn-in president of the legislature, Henry Ramos Allup, has ordered oversized images of late dictator Hugo Chávez to be removed from the central chamber:

Posteraro, meanwhile, explained the events on his Instagram account, noting that he had suffered only “a couple of bruises.” “Today, I was assaulted by a group of colectivos [Chavista gangs] that wanted to steal our equipment as we went to join a congregation of 12 reporters,” he noted. “I am indignant because, to some groups of Venezuelans, I am a delinquent because I am a photographer who takes photos, and those who attacked me will have absolute impunity.”

The roving gangs of colectivos, violent Chavista groups who rose to prominence in 2014 after taking to systematically beating anti-socialist protesters and raiding college campuses, were seen taking places in a park across from the National Assembly.

Mexico’s El Universal approached one of the gangs, noting that many were covering their faces, scowling threateningly at passersby. “We decided to show our face and send a message of peace,” one gang member, Simón Bernal, told the newspaper. “We know the right is coming for us.”

La Patilla is alleging that their journalists were not attacked by common delinquents, however, but by a member of the Socialist Party. The publication has identified the man as Miguel Ángel Ibirma Veroes, nicknamed him “Cobardito” (“Little Coward”), and posted all his social media information online. “This is his Twitter, this is his Facebook… send the coward a greeting,” the publication suggests.

The opposition took control of the legislature yesterday for the first time in 17 years, in a ceremony described as “filled with moments of tension due to the recurring insults being shouted from the balcony of the central chamber.” “The legislators, on various occasions, appeared to come close to blows,” reports note, with Chavista state security surrounding the building.

“They don’t respect the Constitution, they don’t respect the law,” Diosdado Cabello, the defeated former National Assembly head, said upon departing the chamber. Cabello is widely believed to be the boss of an intercontinental cocaine trafficking ring, the Cartel de los Soles.

The opposition has vowed to remove crippling price controls that have impoverished the nation and pass amnesty laws to free the nation’s political prisoners.


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