Venezuelans attempted to march to their local Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) offices in cities throughout the country today, a gesture meant to signify their discontent with the Communal Constituent Assembly. The assembly, elections for which are scheduled for July 30, will be tasked with drafting a new national constitution, a move regime critics argue will allow Maduro to cement dictatorial rule in Venezuela.
Dozens of protesters were injured in Caracas alone, and a 17 year old demonstrator named Neomar Alejandro Lander Armas was killed in the capital after apparently being shot in the chest with a tear gas canister. At least 27 people had received medical attention for injuries sustained during the protest in Caracas as of 4:00 PM.
The intensity of the repression was particularly fierce in Caracas, which continues to see large crowds of anti-regime protesters as the unrest continues into its 68th day.
The video below shows National Guard soldiers advancing on demonstrators on the Francisco de Miranda avenue in the city:
As in previous occassions, the marches were violently repressed by state authorities who fired tear
The videos below shows National Guard soldiers dragging a person from the back of their motorcycle during the unrest in Caracas today, likely in the Montalban neighbourhood. In the first video, National Guard soldiers struggle to place the demonstrator on the back of their motorcycle. At one point, another soldier rams the protester with his own bike:
The video below shows the soldiers speeding away while the protester’s legs drag on the pavement:
The video below shows National Guard soldiers in action in the Montalban area of Caracas. Note that the soldiers riding on the back seat of some of the motorcycles have raised their shields to protect the vehicle from objects thrown at it from the residents of nearby buildings:
17 Year old Protester Killed in Caracas
A 17 year old protester named Neomar Alejandro Lander Armas was killed during the unrest in the Chacao neighbourhood of Caracas today. Early reports suggest that Lander was killed by National Guard soldiers after he was shot in the chest with some kind of projectile, likely a tear gas canister.
Neomar becomes the 67th protest-related fatality since the unrest began on April 1.
The video below appears to show Lander being loading onto the back of a Green Cross pick up truck. The fact that a Green Cross volunteer performs chest compressions on Lander suggests that his heart had stopped by the time that he was loaded onto the truck. The crowd chants “Fuerza!” [“Be strong!”] as Lander is loaded onto the vehicle:
The video below appears to show the moments after Lander collapsed to the ground after being hit:
If the reports that Lander was killed by a tear gas canister are accurate, he would become the second protester to die from that cause during this wave of unrest. On April 26, a 20 year old student named Juan Pablo Pernalete was killed when he was hit in the chest by a tear gas canister in Caracas.
Tintori: Lopez Not Engaged in Negotiation with Regime
Human rights activist Lilian Tintori refuted claims today that her husband, jailed Voluntad Popular (VP) leader Leopoldo Lopez, is currently engaged in talks with the Maduro regime presumably to secure his release. Lopez has been serving a 14 year sentence since 2014 for his role in leading an anti-regime protest movement at the time.
Tintori said that Lopez is not involved “in any time of negotiation with the government”, contradicting a claim made by Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez earlier this week.
Tintori also said that the regime is taking advantage of the fact that as a prisoner, Lopez is technically available to talk with regime officials 24/7, but stressed that there is a difference between talking and negotiating. Arguing that any dialogue between the opposition and the regime must involve the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), Tintori said:
They [the regime] call it a dialogue, but actually Leopoldo is a hostage of the republic. Leopoldo is a prisoner, [being held] incommunicado, isolated, and they go to the prison to talk to him and he’s there because he’s a prisoner.
Speaking on the recent visit of former Spanish prime minister Jose Rodriguez Zapatero, Tintori said that his work to release all political prisoners in the country should not be misunderstood as part of a negotiation between the regime and Lopez.
US, Allies Hold Joint Drills in the Caribbean
The United States Southern Command is holding its annual Tradewinds military exercise alongside 18 allies in the Caribbean, an event which is scheduled to take place until June 17. The second and final phase of the exercise, which runs from June 13 to 17, will take place just off the coast of Venezuela in Trinidad and Tobago.
According to Admiral Kurt W. Tidd, the head of the U.S. Southern Command, the exercise helps to:
… guarantee better response to natural disaster [and] land and naval threats, including illegal trafficking in the region.
The Tradewinds exercise takes place every year.
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