The streets of Barquisimeto, the capital of Lara state, were overrun with lawless today as pro-regime militias known locally as colectivos armados [literally “armed groups”] attacked a clinic and a local opposition headquarters in the city today.
Starting in the early afternoon, a colectivo entered the Acosta Ortiz clinic in the centre city, destroyed the lobby of the building and “beat everyone inside”, according to the local newspaper El Impulso. The colectivo also stole computers and security cameras from the clinic.
According to the newspaper, the colectivo threatened to return to the clinic “with reinforcements” since, according to the group, the site provides aid to anti-government protesters.
The video below captured the moment that the colectivo attacked the clinic:
The attack on the clinic prompted the nearby Seguro Social Pastor Oropeza hospital to order all of its non-essential staff to evacuate the building until further notice as a preventative measure against a possible colectivo attack.
MUD Building Attacked
A colectivo armado–possibly the same once that attacked the clinic–also attacked a home used by the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), the country’s official opposition bloc.
Fernando Segnini, who lives in the home, told El Impulso that the colectivo shot through the windows and then tried to burn down the building. Segnini said:
The colectivos were shouting, “Chavez vive! La patria sigue!” [a common PSUV slogan; “Chavez lives! The fatherland lives on!]. They came only to burn the house. They were on motorcycles and in a van similar to the one used by the state police. They took all the MUD banners.
Colectivo Terrorizes Barquisimeto
The same colectivo that attacked the Acosta Ortiz clinic in Barquisimeto this afternoon appears to have driven around the city, attacking a building belonging to the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) and generally terrorizing residents.
The colectivo appears to have been comprised of a convoy of at least three vehicles: two pick-up trucks and a large, open-side van. The image below shows the convoy moving through one of the streets in the city this afternoon:
The video below shows the same group of men terrorizing residents of the city:
In the video below, the convoy come to a stop on a road. A terrified woman films the men as they begin to move on the street. One of their vehicles displays a Venezuelan flag. Note that the men are clearly armed:
The video below shows the colectivo driving away from an intersection:
In the short clip below, the colectivo attempts to break down the door of a home with an axe:
The video below shows the colectivo coming to a stop:
In the clip below, armed men in civilian clothing fire their weapons, presumably at protesters, alongside state security forces. It is not clear if the armed civilians in the clip below form part of the colectivo shown above:
Two Killed in Barquisimeto During Protests; One in Merida
The death toll of the unrest that has shaken the country since April 1 has risen to 87 after two men were killed during the unrest in Barquisimeto today, while another died in Merida state.
The first fatality, 28-year-old Ruben Morillo, was shot in the chest while protesting against the Maduro regime in the Obelisco neighbourhood in the city.
There are conflicting reports about Morillo’s death. El Nacional reports that he may have been shot with a sphere (not a bullet), which could suggest that he was shot by a National Guard soldier who loaded his standard-issue shotgun with ball bearings, for example, instead of rubber pellets.
However, the newspaper also reports that pro-regime militias were active in the area at the time that Morillo was shot, suggesting that they may have been responsible for his death.
National Assembly deputy Alfonso Marquina tweeted the image below, which allegedly shows Morillo (in the green camouflage shirt) moments before he was killed:
The second fatality was a man named Fernando Rojas. There are no details about Rojas’ death at this moment, other than he suffered a gunshot injury during the unrest in the city today and that he died at the Barquisimeto Central Hospital this afternoon.
The third fatality was a 20-year-old man named Eduardo Marquez. Marquez was shot during a protest in the municipality of Pie de Llano, Merida state on June 13, and was hospitalized until his death today.
According to El Universal, Marquez was participating in an anti-regime protest in the town when a firefight broke out. Marquez was struck by a bullet in the abdomen. Three Merida State Police officers were also shot in the same incident.
11-Year-Old Injured by Rubber Pellets
A National Guard soldier shot an 11-year-old boy in the head with rubber pellets in Colon, Tachira state yesterday, causing an injury to the boy’s forehead.
While it’s not clear if the boy was participating in an anti-regime protest, the National Guard soldier likely fired his weapon in order to disperse protesters.
The shooting was first reported by National Assembly deputy Karim Vera, who tweeted the following image:
National Guard wounds 11-year-old child in the head. What harm could this child have done to the solider? #Colon #Tachira
Truck Dumps Bones on Road in Protest; Hungry Locals Flock to Scene
This morning, a dump truck emptied a load of bones onto a road in Cabudare, Lara state. Dumping waste onto roads in order to block traffic through the area as a sign of protest is not uncommon in Venezuela.
The images below show the bones being dumped on the road, along with a handful of National Guard soldiers who responded to the scene:
Shortly after the bones were dumped on the road, hungry are residents flocked to the scene to collect the waste, presumably to use in the preparation of soup.
The video below shows people rummaging through the pile of discarded bones:
Relatives Unable to Visit Students Arrested in El Rosal Yesterday
Relatives of the 31 students arrested in the El Rosal neighbourhood of Caracas yesterday denounced today that they are being denied access to their loved ones. The students are being held in El Helicoide, which is the name of the building in Caracas that houses the headquarters of the SEBIN, Venezuela’s political police.
The relatives and their lawyers have been camped outside of the building since yesterday, and also told media that they do not yet know why their loved ones were arrested.
Of the 31 students, two minors have already been released.
Daniel Ascanio, the president of the Federacion de Centros de Estudiantes [Federation of Student Centres] (FCE) at the Universidad Simon Bolivar, told El Universal that he was marching with the students who would later be arrested in the El Rosal neighbourhood of Caracas yesterday. Ascanio said that when they approached a National Guard roadblock in the area, the soldiers opened fire on them with tear gas and rubber bullets, splitting the group into two.
The group that Ascanio found himself in managed to escape the repression, while the second group was cornered inside a bank and subsequently arrested.
Ascanio also said that he is certain that the arrested students will be tried in a civilian–not military–court.
Detainees Forced to Drink Gasoline, Left to Die in Barquisimeto
Yesterday, National Guard soldiers forced to detainees to drink gasoline until the pair fainted, according to a Pedro Troconis, a lawyer with a local NGO called the Foro Penal Venezolano (Venezuelan Penal Forum) (FPV). The event happened in Barquisimeto, Lara state in the evening hours.
While news of the abuse first spread through social media, it was not until this morning that the story was confirmed by the FPV.
Troconis told El Nacional:
The pair were forced to drink gasoline, which caused them to faint. They left them laying on the ground.
The pair were found at the intersection of Libertador street and 54 street in the city by paramedics, who provided medical assistance to the two.
Troconis said that the two had filed a complaint at the Public Ministry related to the event.
FPV: 245 Civilians Tried by Military Courts Currently in Prison
The Foro Penal Venezolano (FPV) announced today that there are currently 245 civilians sentenced by military tribunals serving time in prison for participating in the anti-government protests that have been taking place since April 1. That numbers comes from a total of 415 civilians who have been processed through military tribunals.
The use of military courts to try civilians is a violation of Venezuelan law, and a sign for critics of Maduro that the regime is growing increasingly desperate and authoritarian in its quest to crush dissent.
The FPV also announced that since April 1, 3,529 individuals have been arrested for protesting against the Maduro regime, and that 1,188 of them remain behind bars today.
The NGO also said that there are currently 404 political prisoners in Venezuelan jails.
The FPV is a local NGO that tracks criminal justice statistics and provides legal services to individuals.
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