WARNING: THIS UPDATE CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES AND VIDEOS SHOWING DECEASED PROTESTERS.
At least two people were killed and dozens more were injured and detained during one of the largest anti-government demonstrations in Venezuelan history today. Millions of Venezuelans took to the streets of Caracas and every other major city in the country to demand the restoration of democratic order in the country following months of increasingly-authoritarian rule by Maduro.
In Caracas, demonstrators met at some twenty rally points throughout the city in the early morning. The plan, as in previous occassions, was to march to the People’s Defender office in order to make a number of demands, including the release of the country’s political prisoners. Because the Maduro regime has a blanket ban on opposition demonstrations in the western part of Caracas, the opposition was prevented from reaching its destination with overwhelming force by official and unofficial state authorities.
Below, images of the opposition march in Caracas this morning before the repression began in earnest:
Protesters marching in La Florida heading towards Chacaito:
A multitude in the Santa Fe neighbourhood:
The Francisco Fajardo highway, which is eight-lanes wide, was completely covered by protesters for several kilometers:
A video showing tens of thousands of protesters:
The main opposition demonstration at around noon:
The opposition has called on all Venezuelans to once again take to the streets of the country tomorrow in protest against the Maduro dictatorship.
Pro-Regime Civilian Groups Claim Two Lives
The first fatality of the day was 17-year-old Carlos Jose Moreno, who was shot in the head by a pro-regime civilian armed group (known as a colectivo armado) just before the noon hour.
According to his brother, Moreno had left the family home in the San Bernardino area of Caracas that morning after telling his parents that he was going out to play soccer with friends. At some point, Moreno found himself alongside a crowd of opposition protesters who were marching through the area. At that moment, a colectivo armado opened fire on the crowd of protesters, killing Moreno on the spot.
.Below, a video showing Moreno laying dead on the ground shortly after being shot:
Man Recording: What happened to him?
Other Man: He was shot in the head!
Man Recording: Damn it! Where did he get shot from? Motherfucker! Damn it!
Other Man: Fuck! This can’t be happening!
Protesters took Moreno took a clinic to receive medical care on the back of the motorcycle. However, video showing the moment Moreno was placed on the vehicle clearly showed that the boy’s body was completely limp and unresponsive, suggesting that he was already deceased by that point.
Below, an image of Moreno on the back of a motorcycle:
The second fatality of the day was a 23 year old woman named Paola Andreina Ramirez Gomez. Andreina was also shot by a colectivo armado during a protest, this time in San Cristobal, Tachira state.
Below, an image showing Andreaina’s body covered by a sheet on the ground:
Below, an image showing Andreina’s as it fell on the Plaza Garviras:
The video below, taken from security footage, captured the moment in which Gomez was murdered. The video shows her calmly walking across the street as a group of motorcyclists drives me. One of the motorcyclists shoots her from behind, killing her on the spot:
The video below shows a group of men discussing what happened to Andreina:
Man: … they screwed her, man. That whole building witnessed it.
Man 2: They were shooting [unintelligible].
Man: Look, kid, the whole building witnessed it. Now that son of a bitch Vielma Mora [the PSUV governor of Tachira state] and the other cowards can’t come out and say the protesters did this. The girl was left alone because everyone else got cornered down there. That’s what happened.
Man 2: They started shooting at us too.
Protesters in Caracas Met with Brutal Repression
State authorities repressed the opposition march to the People’s Defender’s office violently, as they had in previous occassions. Below, images from Caracas:
The main mass of opposition protesters getting tear gassed by state authorities. Note that on the bottom right, protesters flee the toxic gas by wading across the Guaire river:
Another angle of the repression on the Francisco Fajardo highway:
A video showing desperate protesters fleeing across the Gauire:
Another video of the same event from a different angle:
Those who didn’t want to risk wading in the highly-contaminated river climb across on a drainage pipe:
Vice President Tarek El Aissami said that the protesters who crossed the Guaire today did so “due to hate”.
Below, a video showing protesters being tear gassed in San Bernardino, Caracas:
The video below shows a phalanx of National Guard soldiers fighting protesters:
The main mass of the opposition demonstration began to retreat at approximately 1:30 PM, when it turned around and began to move east on the Francisco Fajardo highway after coming up against National Guard barricades:
The video below shows an advancing line of National Guard troops pushing protesters back:
Day Marked By Chaos, Fear
The video shows panicked protesters fleeing into a building while gunfire erupts:
The image below shows a pro-regime civilian armed group on the December 9 Bridge in Caracas. Note that the group is: 1) armed, 2) not wearing any kind of uniform, and 3) working alongside official state security forces (the motorcycle is marked “GNB” – National Bolivarian Guard”):
In Venezuela, these kinds of groups are known as colectivos armados. The two protester casualties today are alleged to have been the victims of colectivos armados.
Below, a video showing a demonstrator being beaten by National Guard soldiers somewhere in the country:
Lone Woman Captured In Standoff Against Armored Truck
Arguably the most iconic images of the day came when a woman stood in front of a National Guard armored truck on the Francisco Fajardo highway in an attempt to stop the vehicle from moving forward to repress demonstrators.
Below, images of the woman and the truck:
Below, a video of the woman standing in front of the truck:
Video Reveals Clever Camera Trick to Create Illusion of Support
The PSUV held its own demonstrations in Caracas today, on the Bolivar avenue. State-owned TV showed an innumerable multitude of supporters at the rally, but a twitter user who lives in the area of the regime rally demonstrates how the images were actually created with clever camera work. Below, the video:
The video shows how, by placing the camera at an appropriate distance and height above the main stage, the angle at which the camera focuses on the horizon makes it possible to make the entire avenue appear full by placing groups of people strategically at certain distances from each other.
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