A 31 year old man is dead after being shot by authorities during a protest in San Antonio de los Altos in Miranda state this morning. Diego Arellano was participating in an anti-regime protest in the city when he was killed, becoming the 51st victim of the unrest that has shaken the country since April 1, and the fourth fatality in the last 24 hours.
Arellano was a biologist who specialized in the study of amphibians.
Sporadic fighting between National Guard soldiers and protesters kept residents of San Antonio de Los Altos up most of last night, as skirmishes spilled over into the early morning hours. San Antonio is located south of Caracas. A vital highway–the Panamericana–runs through the city. Protesters often block traffic through the highway in San Antonio.
Below, a video showing a small group of protesters and National Guard soldiers facing off in the city early this morning:
By the mid morning, the number of protesters had increased. The video below shows National Guard trucks driving full speed into the crowd of protesters. The protesters respond with molotov cocktails:
Below, another video from San Antonio taken at approximately 11:00 AM:
The video below captured the sounds of a gunfight in San Antonio earlier today:
Three Protesters Run Over, More than a Dozen Neighbourhoods Terrorized by Militias in Lara
Three protesters were run over by unidentified vehicles during yesterday’s protests in Cabudare, Lara state. The three individuals were participating in a sit-in in the city when they were hit by an SUV. Their medical condition is not known, but there have been no protest-related deaths reported in Lara state in the last 72 hours.
In the centre [of Barquisimeto] they attacked a bakery and beat up one of the workers, but were repelled by the owners of several Arabic businesses and then fled the scene. They destroyed vehicles that were parked in the commercial area and inside buildings. Shortly after 4:30 PM, another [colectivo] attacked the Las Trinitarias and La Floresta neighbourhoods. They attempted to break through gates and threatened [residents] with coming back later to destroy their homes and vehicles.
Colectivos armados are regime militias made up of civilians who sympathize with the regime. They act with impunity to intimidate and attack protesters in way that official authorities cannot act.
MUD Gears up for Night Protests Tomorrow
The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) has announced that it will hold a nighttime demonstration in Caracas tomorrow, the first such activity since the protests began on April 1.
The demonstration will take place from 5:00 to 7:00 PM at the La Villa mall and Parque Cristal in Caracas.
Venezuela–and Caracas in particular–is arguably the most dangerous place on earth, and has the highest murder rate on the planet. Caracas residents typically live under a self-imposed curfew that begins roughly at 6:00 PM each night when the sun goes down.
OAS Foreign Affairs Minister Meeting Takes Place May 31
The Organization of American States (OAS) has summoned the ministers of foreign affairs from all of its member nations to a special meeting on the Venezuelan crisis. The meeting will take place at the headquarters of the diplomatic body in Washington, D.C. on May 31.
The meeting was scheduled after a vote at an OAS session yesterday. The following countries voted in favour of holding the special foreign affairs ministers meeting: Guatemala, Guayana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia and the United States.
Niacaragua was the only country to vote against the meeting, while Grenada and Venezuela did not attend the meeting. Every other country abstained.
This is the first time that the foreign affairs ministers of the OAS member states will meet to discuss the ongoing crisis in the country. The meeting could result in multilateral action against the Maduro regime, including sanctions against high-ranking officials and other diplomatic measures.
UN Security Council to Discuss Venezuela Tomorrow
The United Nations Security Council will discuss the Venezuelan crisis tomorrow during an informal, closed-door meeting that will also cover a wide range of other topics.
EFE claims that one of the Security Council’s five permanent members (the United States, France, the UK, Russia and China) asked that tomorrow’s meeting include a discussion on Venezuela.
Tomorrow’s discussion will mark the first time that the world’s top diplomatic body has discussed the ongoing crisis in the country.
Protester Dies After Being Shot by National Guard Yesterday
A 17 year old boy named Yeison Mora Castillo died early this morning after being shot by National Guard soldiers during a protest yesterday in Pedraza, Barinas state. Yeison allegedly suffered a gunshot wound.
Mora’s death was confirmed by National Assembly deputy Freddy Superlano, who announced the news on Twitter by saying:
Yeison Mora’s crime was to fight for a different Venezuela.
Detainees Allegedly Forced to Eat Excrement
Luis Betancourt, a coordinator at the Foro Penal Venezolano [Venezuelan Penal Forum] (FPV), a human rights NGO, announced that the FPV had received “many complaints” of torture and cruel treatment by authorities against protesters arrested in the state in the past seven weeks.
Betancourt explained that the allegations of torture come from the detainees themselves when they are taken to answer for charges in court. Betancourt said:
The majority of those arrested are beaten while being detained and transported to jail, before they are brought up before a judge. They recount this during their hearings. One [detainee] was beaten, and a black bag was placed over his head. He asked for medical assistance because he felt that one of his ribs was moving.
Betancourt also said that incidences of torture appear to be on the rise. On the case of 40 individuals arrested in the state on May 4, Betancourt said:
Of a group of 40 who were arrested allegedly for looting, 37 complained that they had been beaten. They shaved their heads. One [detainee] said that [authorities] extinguished a cigarette on his arm.
The methods by which authorities are torturing individuals also appear to demonstrate a level of maliciousness that is difficult to put into words. Betancourt said:
From that group, approximately 15 complained that they had been forced to eat pasta with weeds and excrement. They told the military judge that [the authorities] placed tear gas dust on their noses to force them to open their mouths, and that was then they would put the pasta with excrement in their mouths and force them to swallow.
Allegations of torture are not limited to Carabobo state. Laura Valbuena, who represents the FPV’s Zulia state chapter, said:
Eight of the people detained in Villa del Rosario on May 6 were taken to a military tribunal. They complained that authorities had sprayed their faces with a white powder that stung and made them itch, and that they were threatened with incarceration.
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