Venezuelans marked the 50th consecutive day of anti-regime protests today by pouring onto the streets of cities and towns across the country in a massive display of the apparently unrelenting will for political change in the country.
The protests, which began on April 1, aim to force general elections in the country and secure the release of all political prisoners in Venezuela. The Maduro regime has responded to this unprecedented display of popular discontent by violently repressing peaceful demonstrations and using military tribunals to send demonstrators to prison. Approximately 50 people have been killed in protest-related violence over the past month and a half, most of them by security forces and pro-regime armed militias known locally as colectivos armados (“armed groups”).
In Caracas, an ocean of people covered the Francisco Farjardo highway from early in the morning. Below, an image of the highway in the neighbourhood of Los Ruices at around noon:
A video of the same scene approximately an hour later:
An image from approximately 2:30 PM shows what is likely to be one of the largest concentrations of Venezuelans in the history of the country:
Another video of the crowd stretching beyond sight into the horizon while Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles speaks:
Regime Keeps Up Own Streak of Violent Repression
As it has done on virtually each of the past 50 days, the regime responded to today’s protests with overwhelming brute force.
Below, a convoy of National Bolivarian Police and National Guard units moving on the Francisco Fajardo highway to meet demonstrators before noon:
Once the main mass of demonstrators had dispersed from the highway, a resolute few remained behind. They burned a truck and blocked access through the highway:
The video below shows National Bolivarian Police soldiers chasing and beating fleeing protesters somewhere in Caracas today. Note that around 0:29, a police officer fires a tear gas canister directly at a fleeing protester at close range and narrowly misses her:
Authorities will often fire tear gas canister directly at demonstrators, in effect turning the munition into a kind of potentially lethal impact weapon. A protester named Juan Pablo Pernalete was killed in April after being shot in the chest with a tear gas canister.
NTN24, a Colombian news network with journalists in Venezuela, captured a National Bolivarian Police officer using an improvised weapon against protesters: a bottle rocket. The image:
The image below shows a tractor trailer on the highway in the Chacaito neighbourhood, jackknifed on purpose to block traffic:
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