A caravan transporting opposition leader Juan Guaido came under fire today in Barquisimeto, Lara state as he was scheduled to attend a rally in the city.
According to media reports, a pro-government armed group known in Venezuela as a colectivo armado (literally “armed group”) opened fire at the rally, impacting a vehicle that belonging to Guaido’s entourage. It is not clear from these preliminary reports whether Guaido was in the vehicle when it came under fire.
Below, an image of the damage that the vehicle sustained:
Reporters with VPITv who were at the scene managed to record the armed group at the rally. Below, a clip showing the colectivo that attacked the opposition event in Barquisimeto today. In the clip, the reporter says that the colectivo was accompanied by officers from the SEBIN:
Reporter: There’s a strong precense of armed colectivos and SEBIN [officers]. They are shooting at the rally that is taking place in the La Paz neighbourhood, where president-in-charge Juan Guaido is.
The video below shows a group of men attempting to enter a vehicle that was transporting part of Guaido’s staff to the rally. NTN24 is reporting that the men eventually stole the vehicle:
A woman who was at the rally when it came under attack gave her testimony to VPITv, which you can see below:
Reporter: Where were you?
Woman: We were at the rally that Juan Guaido had organized, and a lot of chavistas showed up. They shot at us, they surrounded us, they beat us up and the robbed us. They stole everything I had in my bag. They were driving around looking to see who they could get a hold of, who they could attack. Thank God you showed up… but they were beating up anyone that they knew was at the rally.
Colectivos armados play a key role in the Maduro regime’s repression of political dissent. As used colloquially, the term is an umbrella name for any group of people dressed in civilian clothing who antagonizes opposition supporters. A colectivo could therefore be a police officer or National Guard soldier who conducts official duties while not in uniform, criminal gangs recruited by the PSUV to assist its official forces in repression, or simply private citizens who sympathize with the Maduro government and answer its call to defend the revolution against the opposition.
EDIT: An image published by the Associated Press shows a colectivo member aiming his pistol in the direction of Juan Guaido, who was in a crowd a short distance away.
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