Venezuela: Opposition Protesters Burn Motorcyclist Alive at Barricade

More than 80 people have been killed or seriously injured since opposition protests started in April.

One man was killed and another left with severe burns after opposition protesters attacked a truck driver with molotov cocktails in Zulia State, Venezuela on Wednesday.

RELATED: Ignoring Opposition Attack, US Calls for ‘Pressure’ on Maduro

The national director of Civil Protection, Jorge Galindo, reported Thursday that one death and two bystanders were seriously injured as a result of a protest in Maracaibo.

According to a victim of the attack, the truck attempted to avoid being attacked at the barricade and collided into a motorcycle behind the vehicle, trapping the motorcyclist under the truck before protesters threw the petrol bombs.

"We came across the barricade .. and those who had blocked the way began throwing stones at us to loot the truck and when we went in reverse, we hit the motorcycle," said Jose Bravo, who was in the passenger seat of the truck.

“(The motorcyclist) lay injured on the road and then they threw Molotov bombs at us and set the truck on fire. The boy burned to death and my colleague and I were rescued," Bravo continued.

Bravo, 33, suffered third-degree burns to 95 percent of his body, was sent to the Coromoto Hospital’s Burn Unit to receive treatment.

The motorcyclist was identified as 20 years old Luigin Paz.

The roadblocks closing down a main road near the city’s bridge were organized by anti-government groups answering a nationwide protest call by opposition leaders from the MUD coalition.

MARACAIBO: Resultó con 95 % de QUEMADURAS en su cuerpo el cddno José Bravo (33) quien trató de esquivar una barricada y le arrojaron molotov.

Through its official Twitter account the Attorney General's office indicated that investigation had been called.

The opposition MUD coalition had called for a "national shutdown" Wednesday, with small numbers across most of the country cutting off access to roads for four hours as a protest against the National Constituent Assembly called by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Many of protests which have transpired since April have spiralled out of control, leaving more than 80 deaths in its wake. On several occasions President Maduro has called for the cessation of violence and dialogue as a way to resolve the conflict, however, MUD has rejected this possibility and has maintained its calls for street protests.

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Venezuela Opposition 'Escalates' Anti-Government Protests, Remains Silent on Right-Wing Violence

President Nicolas Maduro has accused right-wing opposition leaders of being complicit in fatal violence with their silence. 

Right-wing leaders in Venezuela have called for an escalation of protests as a fresh set of marches for and against the government are set to hit the streets Monday and political tensions continue to run high after nearly two months of opposition demonstrations aimed at forcing President Nicolas Maduro out of office.

RELATED: Venezuelan Opposition Mob Beats Retired National Guard to Death

Opposition groups will march in Caracas towards the Ombudsman’s office Monday, while government supporters will head toward the Miraflores Presidential Palace under the banner of “Peace, Life and Constituent Assembly.”

Ahead of the latest round of opposing demonstrations, opposition leader and vice president of the National Assembly, Freddy Guevara, called on supporters to “get ready for an escalation,” saying anti-government groups will “significantly” increase “pressure” in the streets against Maduro.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Henrique Capriles, head of the opposition Justice First party who lost the last two presidential elections while representing the opposition MUD coalition, stoked the opposition protests — which have increasingly spilled over into violence — by accusing the government of being responsible for violence.  

“The government’s hand is behind the burned buses, the barricades, the acts of vandalism,” Capriles said, according to Venezuela’s El Universal.

A total of 51 buses were burned last week in an attack on a transport company in Puerto Ordaz. Capriles took to Twitter after the incident to blame the government, writing, “They burn, loot, destroy everything to try to detract from the legitimate protest of the people.” On the other hand, the ruling socialist party governor in the state of Bolivar, Francisco Rangel, slammed as an opposition “terrorist act” on his Twitter account.

Maduro called on the opposition Sunday to condemn such “terrorist acts,” accusing right-wing leaders of generating violence.

“The opposition, by silence, is complicit in criminal terrorism that murders innocent people in the streets,” the president said in his weekly program, arguing that it has been already made clear that the opposition is to blame for violence. “The ultra-right is held hostage by terrorist groups that they themselves created.”

RELATED: Venezuelan Women Debate Constituent Assembly Proposals

More than 60 people have been killed in incidents linked to protests since the opposition launched an ongoing wave of anti-government demonstrations at the beginning of April, according to government officials. In the latest violent incident, a former member of the National Guard was beaten to death by an opposition mob Saturday in the state of Lara in what Maduro condemned as a “hate crime … by a group of criminals, murderers, violent protesters.”

Although the dozens of people killed amid protests have died from a range of different causes — including at least 18 shot by assailants during protests, 13 killed during looting, eight killed at violent barricades, and five killed by police — right-wing leaders have painted the death toll as the result of a violent crackdown on the opposition marches by government forces.

Monday’s opposition march claims to be in memory of those “fallen” in recent weeks of protests, but leaders have failed to condemn the violence that has repeatedly broken out in the ranks of its supporters during demonstrations.

“Today May 29 begins another stage of greater constitutional pressure,” Capriles wrote on his Twitter account. “We Venezuelans want answers and solutions to the crisis!”

The opposition has rejected Maduro’s national Constituent Assembly — called to initiate a democratic process to rewrite the country’s constitution and promote dialogue as solution to the intense political deadlock. Instead, right-wing leaders have called for an “escalation” of protests against the socialist government.   

Maduro described the Constituent Assembly Sunday as a process of "revolutionary change" and a "great power" for a "new stage" in Venezuela.

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Beaten & torched: Protester describes violence at Venezuela riots

A government supporter set on fire during opposition riots in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, is in a coma suffering from severe burns and stab wounds, his doctor told RT. Another man was also injured by rioters who were apparently trying to kill him.

 
Opposition supporters clash with riot security forces in Caracas, Venezuela, May 18, 2017. © Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Gruesome footage of a man named Orlando Figuera, 21, was broadcast on state television this weekend. It shows dozens of people at an anti-government demonstration in Caracas surrounding the man, dousing him with gasoline, and setting him on fire in Plaza Altamira in the east of city.

“He received six wounds in the torso with burns over 54 percent of his body surface, both second and third degree,” Alexis Parra Soler, a doctor treating Figuera, told RT.

Horrifying images from the scene show Figuera running while nearly naked with flames on his back. “A person was set on fire, beaten up, stabbed... They nearly lynched him, just because he shouted out that he was a ‘Chavista,’” said Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, referring to supporters of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela established by late leader Hugo Chavez.

Speaking on state TV, Maduro described the torching as “a hate crime and a crime against humanity.” The 21-year-old victim, who sustained heavy injuries, severe burns, and stab wounds, was taken to intense care.

Another victim named Carlos Ramirez was also hunted down by rioters who were apparently trying to kill him. “I told them I’m not a Chavista, but they said of course I am, so I had to die” Ramirez told RT at a hospital.

“They started to hit me, and after I collapsed to the ground, they threw a Molotov cocktail at me,” the man said.

Venezuelan Information Minister Ernesto Villegas reacted by tweeting: “Growing insanity. A human being is set on fire at a ‘peaceful demonstration’ by the opposition in Caracas.”

At least 50 people have been killed, including bystanders and members of the security forces, during several weeks of anti-government rallies, according to Reuters. 

Lynchings have also become common, as opposition rallies quickly turn violent. Venezuelan Interior Minister Nestor Reverol described the rioters’ actions as “acts of terrorism,” while suggesting that the provocateurs have links to organized crime.

“[The riots] show how the terrorist right maintains close relationships with criminals to commit these acts,” he said on Twitter.

In turn, the opposition accuses Maduro of being a “dictator” and wrecking the nation’s economy. They are demanding that he step down as president. Riots have been breaking out as Venezuela’s economy has slid into a deep crisis. Recently, the International Monetary Fund warned that the country’s currency was rapidly losing value, with monetary inflation at 720 percent, the worst in the world, according to the Financial Times

In response, Maduro has lashed out at the US and its Venezuelan sympathizers, who he says are exploiting economic hardship to bring unrest and violence into the country. “Enough meddling ... Go home, Donald Trump. Get out of Venezuela,” Maduro said in a speech broadcasted on TV, as cited by Reuters. “Get your dirty hands out of here,” he urged.

“The extreme positions of a government just starting off only confirmed the discriminatory, racist, xenophobic, and genocidal nature of US elites against humanity and its own people, which has now been heightened by this new administration, which asserts white Anglo-Saxon supremacy,” the statement read, as cited by Reuters.

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US Imposes New Unilateral Sanctions on Venezuela, Tightening Economic Noose

Senator Marco Rubio lambasted the eight judges for aiding and abetting Venezuela's democratically-elected president.

The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed sanctions on eight current or former members of the Venezuela's Supreme Court Thursday, in its ongoing attacks on the Bolivarian nation.

RELATED: Comparing Venezuela’s Media with Our Own

Senator Marco Rubio stood on the Senate floor Thursday and lambasted the eight judges for aiding and abetting Venezuela's democratically-elected President Nicolas Maduro for supposedly “murdering” protesters amid weeks of opposition-spurred violent demonstrations. The Republican senator from Florida also accused the government of carrying out a “coup.”

The Supreme Court justices added to the sanctions blacklist were Supreme Court President Maikel Moreno, Calixto Ortega, Arcadio Delgado, Federico Fuenmayor, Carmen Zuleta, Lourdes Suarez Anderson, and Juan Jose Mendoza. Rubio emphasized that these officials should be “punished for what they've done."

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On April 1, Venezuela’s Supreme Court reversed an earlier ruling that verified its responsibilities to resolve matters generally under the purview of the National Assembly, which has been declared in contempt for more than one year after confirming three lawmakers whose election was overturned due to fraud claims. The decision, widely misrepresented in international media, stoked already high-running tensions in the country and was used by opposition forces as a pretext for the violent street demonstrations that have been taking place for seven weeks.

Maikel Moreno, the head of the legislative body, has stressed in the past the impartiality of the Supreme Court, noting that Venezuelan state bodies like the National Assembly are free to execute their duties as they see fit, provided that these activities don't openly disregard the country's constitutional order.

The Treasury Department's sanctions cited various rulings by the top Venezuelan legislative body, including the approval of the national budget and Maduro's appointment of alleged “government sympathizers” that the U.S. demands face approval by the National Assembly.

RELATED: US Has Budgeted $49M for Venezuelan Right-Wing Since 2009

"The Supreme Court of Justice will never have conflicts with any other public power," Maikel said in April. "We are the arbitrator."

Since taking control of the assembly in December 2015, the majority opposition has largely focused parliamentary activities on removing Maduro from office.

On the same day as Colombian President Manuel Santos met with President Donald Trump, four U.S. Senators offered Santos military aid to repel a possible conflict with Venezuela, according to El Tiempo.

Rubio was one of the senators who said that Colombia's armed forces need to be strengthened in case the crisis in Venezuela worsens. Ultra-right Republican Senator Lindsey Graham asked Santos what kind of weaponry he thought would be necessary, while Senators John McCain and Bob Corker said that military aid had been discussed with the Colombian head of state.

Unlike the last batch of sanctions, the current round of sanctions on top officials doesn't focus on spurious “drug trafficking” allegations.

Venezuela has seen U.S.-backed opposition protests for the past seven weeks that have claimed the lives of over 40 people while injuring hundreds.

Since 2009, the U.S. State Department has allocated at least US$49 million to oust the anti-imperialist Bolivarian government. The U.S. has identified Venezuela as its main adversary in the Western Hemisphere, according to a strategic document from 2007 leaked by whistle-blowing former CIA operative Edward Snowden.

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Venezuelans on Alert in Light of Coup

Caracas, Apr 5 (Prensa Latina) The people and authorities of Venezuela on Tuesday showed that they are prepared to counter the coup plans designed in a script written by several authors who want to break the country's constitutional order.

It could be said that the opposition took to the streets en masse, or rather to a small portion of the capital's streets, where Henrique Capriles, the governor of the state of Miranda who visited Washington recently to receive orders and coordinate plans, has his domain.

However, the Chavist peaceful demonstration was larger and responded to the attacks by opposition sectors, who are trying to create an atmosphere of violence 'to justify' an intervention by its foreign protectors and supporters, as denounced by the popular leader Diosdado Cabello, when he warned against recent dangers for the country.

Evidence of the macabre plot against Venezuela is evident.

According to Marcos Roitman Rosenmann, a Chilean-Spanish essayist, university professor and a Ph.D. in political sciences and sociology, the conspiracy to break Venezuela's constitutional order is under way.

After the conversations between Admiral Kurt Tidd, who at the time was the commander-in-chief of the Miami-based U.S. Southern Command, and the incumbent secretary-general of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, in January 2016, anything can be expected.

In that meeting, they talked about the coup plans and coordinated the action of regional bodies with one end: to undermine the legitimate power of the government of President Nicolas Maduro, Roitman pointed out.

Intelligence services, non-governmental organizations, private media corporation, radio, television, social networks, those that are involved today, must synchronize their actions to deal the final blow, the academic warned.

So far, everything goes as planned, according to the latest developments in the OAS and here in Venezuela.

The conspirators insist on inaugurating a parallel State, headed by the Parliament, in the hands of the opposition. The immediate work is to lay the foundations to make it viable. The strategy is to pressure the Judicial Power, to discredit its resolution and to force the government to take exceptional measures, so that they can justify the intervention to safeguard, curiously, the constitutional order, Roitman said in his analysis.

Of course, the U.S. Embassy in Caracas plays a key role in that labyrinth, as many conspirators go there to meet Tenny Smith, a high-ranking military officer who belongs to the defense intelligence agency, and Rita Buck Rico, who works at the political affairs section of U.S. foreign services, to receive instructions.

Meanwhile, a domestic campaign, focused on Parliament, which is in the hands of the opposition, is being prepared to request a foreign intervention, refusing to comply with its legislative function, which is to approve and develop laws. The maneuver is aimed at turning the National Assembly into the Executive Power.

However, so far, the enemies of the Revolution initiated by Commander Hugo Chavez have not counted on the civic-military unity of Venezuelans, so they will not be able to overthrow the government of Nicolas Maduro.

The plans to enforce the so-called OAS Democratic Charter have not materialized, despite the servility of some governments that have knelt to the new orchestra director in the United States, Donald Trump.

Notwithstanding, the setback in the so-called Ministry of Colonies may speed up the sedition, so the warnings made by the leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Cabello, against a foreign intervention and future bombings are important, because preparations for the coup are under way.

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World Rallies to Face Media Campaigns vs. Venezuela

Caracas, Feb 22 (Prensa Latina) The International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity has convened a worldwide mobilization in support of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, facing the constant attacks orchestrated by the right and media at its service.

The Committee rejects in a statement released yesterday the actions promoted from Washington against Venezuela and joins the call made by President Nicolas Maduro to invoke the relations of respect framed in equality and dialogue.

The committee, in turn, called for an international mobilization on March 1st, 2nd and 3rd, with parallel actions around the world in support of Venezuela, and urged to work from now on networks and social movements spreading the truth and the communiques issued by the Bolivarian government.

The Committee also convened to carry out a world message action through Twitter on March 2nd- and carry out peaceful demonstrations in front of the U.S. embassies in the world on March 3rd, in favor of the revolutionary process in the South American country.

Venezuela is not alone!, the statement said. 'The Bolivarian Revolution of Venezuela, great and generous with all our peoples, needs today the unconditional support of the international solidarity.'

The activities scheduled by the International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity will be held some few days before the fourth anniversary of the death of the Venezuelan leader, Commander Hugo Chavez Frias, on March 5th.

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Venezuela's President Insists on Dialogue to Secure Peace

Venezuela's Government insists on the political dialogue as the best tool for peace, despite the denial of the right wing sector to seat at the discussion table, President Nicolas Maduro said.

At a television appearance, Maduro added that several initiatives have been implemented, as well as meetings between foreign observers and the opposition alliance Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD, in Spanish).

A document came out of those encounters which is under debate to move forward in the political talks.

Maduro said the MUD should still abide by commitments it pledged to since last November.

'I'm optimistic, however, that the opposition will carry out those agreements, that's why I call on the opposition to stay on the peace process for the good of the country', the President said.

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Venezuela Rates Meeting on Dialogue as Excellent

Caracas, Jan 20 (Prensa Latina) Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro rated a meeting that took place here with the international partners of Unasur and the Vatican to strengthen the dialogue process in the country as excellent.

Maduro made his remarks this morning in Twitter after meeting the Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), Ernesto Samper, in the Palace of Miraflores, in order to continue strengthening the momentum of dialogue between the National Government and opposition sectors.

The ex-presidents José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Leonel Fernández, Martín Torrijos, attended the meeting along with the Apostolic Nuncio, Aldo Giordano, who will be the representative of the Holy See in the talks.

Unasur issued a press release of the participants in the process restating the support and commitment to re-launch dialogues between both sectors.

In the document, they announced that they will present a plan to the Government and to the so-called Democratic Unity Board (MUD) aimed at re-launching the talks that are now facing a stage of stagnation due to the opposition's refusal to talk.

Samper said that the initiative to reactivate the dialogue contemplates the solution of different types of proposals and needs that Venezuelans have.

He added that in addition to the political part, the dialogue has to do with the solution of the social problems of Venezuelans with the different commissions.

The former Colombian president said that this process has already shown results and created spaces of confidence among political sectors, while announcing the interest of meeting with the opposition spokesmen today to convey to them the same concerns expressed to the government.

By its part, the government representative at the dialogue table, Jorge Rodríguez, ratified the support to the talks with the opposition sectors and stressed that the only possible path the government is committed to reach peace, is dialogue.

The mayor of Caracas also asked the opposition sectors to cease any violent action that generates destabilization and chaos in the nation, and to join again to the national dialogue.

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