Miguel Pizarro, a National Assembly candidate running on the opposition ballot, attempted to hold a rally today in the Jose Felix Ribas neighbourhood of Caracas earlier today. The event was disrupted by the appearance of colectivos armados [literally “armed collectives”, pro-government armed groups], who fired weapons into the air and forced Pizarro and his team to alter their plans for the day.
Shortly after the start of the rally, a large group of individuals openly carrying weapons ranging from pistols to sub-machine guns appeared on the scene. Many of the men were wearing red “PSUV” shirts, and some were masked.
Below, a video of the colectivo armado as it arrived at the rally:
The hooded man in the aquamarine shirt highlighted above appears to be holding a sub-machine gun folding stock hidden in his bag. In the imagine below, courtesy of La Patilla, the same man can be seen clearly holding a firearm. Based on the shape of the stock, the position of the rear sights and the apparent size of the firearm, it is likely that the man was carrying an H&K MP5 or some variant:
In the picture below, a hooded man wearing a PSUV shirt is holding another firearm, possibly a TEC-9 or some variant:
In the pictures below, the same man can be seen holding the weapon at the ready, his left hand gripping the magazine:
In the picture below, the same man can be seen aiming his weapon as opposition supporters flee. In the background, on the right hand side, the hooded man in the aquamarine shirt appears again:
The picture below shows a man in a black shirt and a red hat holding a pistol. The cloud of smoke emanating from the firearm suggest that it was fired an instant before the picture was taken. In the background: the hooded man in the aquamarine shirt holds his sub-machine gun, while two other men in the center of the picture appear to be firing their pistols:
Below, more pictures of the colectivo armado:
After the arrival of the colectivo, Pizarro told the crowd:
Neither their bullets, nor their guns, nor their intimidation will overcome the strength of a people who want change. You may have the weapons, but you cannot intimidate us. You cannot overcome our will to change Venezuela.
In a tweet sent after the event, Pizarro blamed PSUV National Assembly deputy William Ojeda for the colectivo attack, saying that he saw Ojeda nearby in his “bullet proof SUV” watching the events unfold.
Colectivos armados played a crucial role in the 2014 protests that shook the country. The groups – whose official ties to the government are disputed – were observed by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International attacking opposition protesters, often within site of permissive official security forces.
MUD: UNASUR Mission Inadequate for Job
The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) said today that the UNASUR election observer mission has arrived in the country “late, incomplete and poorly”. The head of the opposition bloc, Jesus Torrealba, published the comments on the MUD’s website.
According to Torrealba, the mission arrived late since there are only 18 days left before the election, and “crucial phases of the [election] process” have already taken place. It arrived incomplete because it lacked representatives from Brazil and Uruguay, as well as an incomplete delegation from Chile. Torrealba said that it arrived “poorly” because one of the mission’s first acts in the country was to try to force the MUD to sign an agreement with the government promising to abide by the election results, an agreement the MUD has previously said it would never sign.
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