The city of Los Teques experienced severe unrest late into the overnight hours yesterday. Below, some scenes from the city overnight.
Protesters and authorities clash on a street:
National Guard soldiers detain an unknown number of protesters:
The video below appears to show a pro-regime civilians firing at demonstrators alongside official state security forces:
Another gun battle:
Lara State Police Officer Dies of Injuries
National Assembly deputy Alfonso Marquina confirmed today that a 37-year-old Lara State Police officer named Yey Amaro died on Wednesday as a result of injuries sustained during a protest on April 11.
According to El Nacional, Amaro was on his way home from work on the night of April 11 when he encountered a group of protesters interacting with a group of pro-regime individuals. While attempting to separate the two groups, Amaro was struck by a vehicle driven by a member of the pro-regime group.
Amaro’s death marks the sixth protest-related fatality of the last two weeks.
Marquina also said that there are six people still in hospital over the unrest that took place in the state this week. One of the individuals is a man named Ender Martinez, who lost his right eye after being hit by a rubber bullet fired by authorities.
Two Opposition Party Members Arrested
Minister of the Interior, Justice and Peace Nestor Reverol announced late last night through his Twitter account that two members of the Primero Justicia (PJ) opposition party were arrested yesterday. Reverol alleged that the pair were planning to carry out “terrorist activities”, but he did not provide any further details.
The two men, Alejandro and Jose Sanchez, are brothers. Reverol said that the two had confessed to “participating in this week’s violence”, and called their arrest “a hard blow against the terrorism of the Venezuelan right wing”.
Today, witnesses to the brothers’ arrest yesterday went to the Public Ministry in Caracas to denounce their detention as arbitrary. The witnesses say that the men were arrested while marching peacefully in the Montalban neighbourhood of Caracas yesterday.
Tomas Guanipa, a high-profile member of PJ, called the arrests part of a regime plan to criminalize the party, and pointed out that Reverol was overseeing crimes against humanity by detaining citizens simply for expressing their political views. Guanipa said:
The Minister must know that [these are] crimes against humanity… and that everything that he is doing today will be dealt with by justice when we achieve change in Venezuela.
The father of the two men, Jose Sanchez, spoke to reporters about his children, and said that the allegations against them were false. Sanchez said:
They’re not out to destabilize anything. They’re young men who believe in a cause: a free Venezuela. They have a right to believe whatever they want without being labeled terrorists.
Sanchez also called attention to the fact that with his Twitter messages last night, Reverol stated as fact that his sons were guilty despite the fact that they have yet to appear in court. Sanchez said:
I think it’s unjust for the law to be trampled on like this.
They knew that going to march was risky, but how could I stop them from going?
Capriles: Pro-Regime Groups Responsible for Looting
The governor of Miranda state, Henrique Capriles, blamed yesterday’s unrest and in particular the looting that took place in Los Teques on pro-regime forces. In a series of tweets, Capriles said:
The looting in [Los Teques] was ordered by the narco-corrupt pro-Maduro elites [and was carried out by] paramilitaries in order to smear our people’s protests!
Whenever opposition protests take place in the country, the PSUV (the ruling party in Venezuela) attempt to characterize them as violent and destructive. The opposition rejects the label, and often blames violence that occurs at protests on regime “infiltrators” or other forces external to the opposition.
Capriles’ comments come at a time when he is under increased pressure from the regime. As governor of the state in which Los Teques is located, the regime could blame Capriles for failing to uphold the law in the city, an accusation which could possibly lead to his removal from office.
Almagro: Regime Has “Blood on Its Hands”
Luis Almagro, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, spoke yesterday on the continued violent repression of peaceful opposition protests in Venezuela, saying that the Maduro regime had “blood on its hands” for the five protest-related fatalities of the last two weeks. Almagro, who has long been an outspoken critic of the regime, said that the heavy-handed repression is yet another example of the fact that Maduro heads a dictatorship in Venezuela.
Almagro made the comments during an event in Doral, a suburb of Miami. Doral is arguably the largest Venezuelan hub in the United States. The event was hosted by an organization created by Venezuelan political refugees. Almagro said:
I feel Venezuela’s pain. I feel the pain of every Venezuelan who resists under the regime, which has blood on its hands.
Almagro also called the colectivos armados (pro-regime armed civilian groups that act violently towards protesters with impunity) “homicidal paramilitary groups”, and called on the regime to crack down on their activities. Colectivos are suspected to have killed two protesters over the last two weeks.
BBC Records Leopoldo Lopez, Mother Speaking
The BBC sent a crew to Venezuela recently to meet with Lepoldo Lopez’s mother, Antonieta Lopez. The crew recorded the two interacting by shouting at each other, since Leopoldo is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence in the Ramo Verde military prison.
Below, the video along with my translation:
Antonieta: Leo! We’re here! Say “Hello!”
Leopoldo: Hello! How are you?
Text: The BBC accompanied Leopoldo Lopez’s mother to the Ramo Verde military prison where the Venezuelan opposition leader is jailed.
Stephen Sackur: (Speaking in English).
Antonieta: (Speaking in English).
Antonieta (at the 1:50 mark): Hello Leo! I came to visit you today! Leo! Are you there? Leo! He’s there! Do you have a message for the people here with me?
Leopoldo: Viva Venezuela! Venezuelans must vote! Let the people decide! Let us have elections! Democracy! We want to vote! We want elections! We want the people to decide!
Antonieta: I got it, Leo!
Leopoldo: We don’t have elections because the government knows it will lose! They’ve lost the people! We have faith that with elections we will overcome this! Viva Venezuela!
Antonieta: Take care of yourself, and God bless you! Strength and faith.
The BBC also published another video, this one in English, in which it discuses the ongoing crisis in the country. That video is below:
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