WARNING: This update contains graphic images of protesters who have been shot and are dying or dead.
I share these images with a heavy heart and purely for informational purposes in order that you may gain a better understanding of what is happening in Venezuela today.
Venezuelans conducted the second nationwide sit-in in as many months today, bringing the streak of days with protests against the Maduro regime to 45.
As of the writing of this update (9:00 PM EST time), two people have been killed during the day’s unrest. Both fatalities occurred in Tachira state. One was a 17-year-old named Luis Alviarez, killed while protesting in the town of Palmira in the Guasimo municipality of the state. The other was 33-year-old Diego Armando Hernandez Baron, who was killed protesting in the Capacho Nuevo municipality. Both individuals were shot.
Below, some images from the demonstration in Caracas:
By 2:00 PM, the highway was replete with demonstrators:
The video below shows a dance troupe performing for demonstrators on the Francisco Fajardo highway in Caracas:
Security forces have been known to fire ball bearings at protesters from their shotguns, which are normally only loaded with rubber pellets. On May 10, a protester named Miguel Castillo Bracho was killed by a ball bearing in Caracas.
The image below shows a ball bearing that has penetrated through a home-made shield:
The video below shows escuderos (shield-bearers) in action somewhere in Venezuela (likely Caracas). The video is undated, but it is likely that it depicts events that occurred today:
The video below shows demonstrators on the highway between Puerto La Cruz and Barcelona in Anzoategui state early this morning:
The video below shows a group of protesters congregated on a street corner in Colon, Tachira state as a National Guard armored vehicle approaches. The protesters flee as the truck turns the corner and begins shooting at them with rubber pellets:
In Tachira state, a National Guard armored truck rounds a corner and begins to shoot fleeing demonstrators with rubber pellets:
Images, Video Capture Protest Dead
WARNING: The image and the video below are graphic.
The image shows a protester (allegedly Luis Alviarez) laying on the ground after having been shot. He is bleeding from the chest.
The video shows a man (allegedly Diego Hernandez) dying on the ground. He has been shot in the chest and is bleeding profusely. Hernandez appears unconscious and may already be dead.
With these two deaths, the death toll from the protests that began in April has now reached 49.
While the number of injured from today’s unrest is not yet known, El Nacional reports that an opposition politician named Wilmer Arevalo was shot in the head in Colon, Tachira state during a protest earlier today. Arevalo is in serious condition. He is a member of the Accion Democratica (AD) party.
The image below shows a woman bleeding profusely from the head. The accompanying tweet from National Assembly Juan Requesens reads “Our colleague Ornelly Salas has been seriously injured by rubber pellets in #Colon #Tachira”:
Mass Arrests, Gunfights in Carabobo State
Carabobo state was the site of particularly severe unrest today, as protesters and security forces exchanged fire in several locations in a worrying escalation of the political violence in the country. All-out gunfights between authorities and opposition supporters are not particularly common.
The neighbourhoods of Mañongo and El Trigal in Valencia saw day-long armed confrontations between protesters and security forces.
The video below shows officers from the Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional (SEBIN) [National Bolivarian Intelligence Service] stopping a vehicle on a road in the neighbourhood of Palma Real in Mañongo. The SEBIN officers are accompanied by soldiers from CONAS, another law enforcement agency.
The SEBIN and CONAS officers then begin to take fire from unseen shooters. The stopped vehicle speeds away from the gunfire as the officers take cover behind an armored truck:
The video below shows what appear to be officers from Policarabobo [Carabobo State Police] taking small arms fire from an unseen shooter. It is not clear where the video was taken. I have been told that the video was recorded near the vicinity of a CORPOELEC [the state electrical utility company], but I cannot be sure of this. Below, the video:
By the mid-afternoon, numerous reports from Mañongo suggested that security forces were raiding apartment buildings, breaking into apartments without warrant and dragging anyone they found off to be arrested. The video below shows security forces leaving an apartment complex. Residents of the complex turned on the building’s fire alarm to warn others of the raid:
A National Guard unit conducting protest policing activities was routed during a confrontation with protesters today in the town of Santa Cruz de Mora in Merida state.
In the video, two groups of National Guard soldiers can be seen facing off against demonstrators on a street. The soldiers are facing in the direction of the camera. Suddenly, a large group of protesters appears behind the soldiers. When the soldiers realize that they are surrounded, they flee the area.
At the end of the video, a number of what sound like gunshots can be heard in rapid succession. The gunshots may have come from the retreating soldiers.
Below, the video:
Venezuelan Ship Carrying 2.5 tonnes of Cocaine Seized Off Canary Islands
Spanish authorities have announced the seizure of a Venezuelan ship carrying 2.5 tonnes of cocaine off the Canary Islands. Seven individuals were arrested in the operation, which also involved law enforcement agents from Portugal, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Portugal.
The ship was intercepted at sea on May 4, but the authorities did not disclose the operation until today.
Two Infants Die from Consuming CLAP Bag Food
El Universal reported yesterday that an 11-month-old baby and a two year old child died last Thursday in Valles del Tuy, Miranda state after eating tuna that came from a CLAP bag, a subsidized food initiative in effect since February of last year.
A CLAP bag is a shopping bag that contains food items and that is sold to families by the government at subsidized prices. The quality of the food in the CLAP bags has long been suspect.
Three other children, aged five, six and fifteen, also became seriously ill after consuming the food. It is not clear which food item in particular caused was contaminated, but all of the victims ate pasta with tomato sauce and tuna that came in the CLAP bag.
The grandmother of the two deceased said that the children became seriously ill about two hours after eating the food.
The grandmother also told El Universal:
I’ve been destroyed by this. I’m very clean and I would not allow [the children] to eat something spoiled. We have to stop other families from being affected by this.
Woman Arrested for Visiting Political Prisoners
Lisbeth Añez, a human rights activist who took on the task of visiting political prisoners and bringing them food, clothes and medicine, as has been arrested by the SEBIN, Venezuela’s political police. Añez is currently being held in detention at the SEBIN’s Caracas headquarters in El Helicoide, after having been arrested on May 12.
El Nacional reports that Añez would spend her weekends visiting prisoners in El Helicoide and the Rodeo prisons “offering help and companionship” to political prisoners held inside those institutions.
On May 12, Añez was at the Simon Bolivar International Airport in Maiquetia waiting to board a flight out of the country when she was arrested by police who claimed to have an arrest warrant against her. Añez was subsequently taken before a military tribunal, where she was charged with treason and rebellion.
Alfredo Romero, the head of the Foro Penal Venezolano [Venezuelan Penal Forum] (FPV) NGO and Añez’s lawyer, says that there is no evidence to suggest that his client is guilty of either crime. Romero said that the state appears to be relying on “Whatsapp messages” found on Añez’s phone that no one in the defense team has seen, as well as on the fact that Añez was travelling with a copy of Leopoldo Lopez’s book in her suitcase.
Romero also explained that since her detention on Friday, Añez has not been able to contact any of her lawyers or family members.
The Maduro regime is increasingly relying on military tribunals to try civilians for treason and rebellion for holding anti-regime views in a desperate attempt to quell the unrest that has been shaking the country since April. FPV estimates that as of May 11, at least 208 civilians had appeared before military tribunals for protest-related activities, a move that is contrary to both national and international law.
National Guard Soldiers Fire at Vehicle for Recording Them
A group of National Guard soldiers fired at a vehicle from an overpass, seemingly only because the occupants of the vehicle were filming them. The incident happened near Valencia, Carabobo state.
Below, the video:
The vehicle in the video above was not the only one to be shot at by National Guard soldiers today. Below, an image of another vehicle, this one from Barquisimeto, Lara state:
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