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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CARICOM Leaders Urged to Send Fact Finding Mission to Venezuela

The objective of the fact-finding mission would be present accurate and objective analysis of the situation.

Leaders from the Caribbean Community, or CARICOM, have been called on to send a fact-finding mission to neighboring Venezuela in order to make an informed analysis of the ongoing situation in the country.

RELATED: Socialist Venezuelan Student Leader Killed After Backing Maduro

David Comissiong, the interim Chairperson of the Caribbean chapter of the International Network In Defense of Humanity, said in a letter Sunday that it was vital for CARICOM governments to get a clearer picture of the events unfolding in Venezuela. He stated the objective of the fact-finding mission would be present accurate and objective analysis of the situation.

Comissiong accused Luis Almagro, the General Secretary of the Organization of American States, of leading a "wicked campaign against Venezuela," with the OAS head championing the application of the organization's 'Democratic Charter' against the country.

"Luis Almagro, the current Secretary General of the OAS, is a virulent right-wing former Foreign Minister of Uruguay who possesses a deep hatred of President Maduro and his PSUV administration," he said in the statement.

The Clement Payne Movement founder also said the opposition-led National Assembly was refusing to carry out their lawful duties, rendering the government dysfunctional.

"They (opposition parties) were publicly declaring that they had no interest in carrying out any law-making functions other than to use their time and energy to somehow get rid of President Maduro before his lawful, constitutional term of office comes to an end in 2018."

He said violence and vandalism of during opposition-backed protests were "consciously designed manifestations orchestrated by the wealthy elitist opposition politicians."

Comissiong also urged media houses in the English-speaking Caribbean to send an investigative team to Venezuela, saying western media's reports on Venezuela are skewed and distorted.

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Despite repeated calls by the Venezuelan government for peaceful dialogue and negotiations with the opposition, protests have continued in the streets, with more radical elements employing violence in efforts to force an ouster of President Nicolas Maduro.

Maduro has looked to ease tensions by calling for a National Constituent Assembly that would open up discussions with civil society on a broad restructuring of the state, but opposition leader have also rejected the call and set off a fresh wave of protests which have led to the deaths of some three dozen people in just over a month.

The United States government, a long-time opponent of the left-wing government, has recently set its sights on the Caribbean as part of a strategy to isolate the country.

RELATED: US Senate Bill Allots $20M Toward Regime Change in Venezuela

The bipartisan Venezuela Humanitarian Assistance and Defense of Democratic Governance Act presented in the U.S. Senate not only seeks to pump millions to opposition efforts to undermine the Maduro government, but also looks to woo the Caribbean through a 'strengthening' of strengthen the U.S.-backed Caribbean Energy Security Initiative, as well as financially support regional investment energy diversification across the Caribbean and Central America.

As part of a wider international effort, the U.S. would leverage the Caribbean to respond to the crisis, where many Caribbean countries “which depend largely on high cost imported fuel for electricity generation, and many of which have benefited from preferential treatment by Venezuela,” the bill states.

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Regional Strategy to Fight Violence and Extremism

The Arab countries of the Persian Gulf will start tomorrow here to discuss the adoption of a joint strategy to promote moderation and combat violence and extremism, official sources of Bahrain announced today.

Authorities of this kingdom are on the final preparations for the fourth meeting of the Ministers for Islamic Affairs and Religious Legacy of the of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) which, for the first time be held in Manama from the 19th to the 29th of the current month.

Local sources said that the leaders were invited to agree on a common strategy that counteracting the spread of extremism and violence in the region, at the time that further moderation in the Islamic religious areas.

In fact, the agenda of the meeting expected discussions between ministers on the role of Islamic preachers - called imams and khateebs, in Arabic--in spreading the culture of moderation and the sharing of experience among States members of the block of the Gulf monarchies.

Meetings on Wednesday and Thursday will take place amid widespread worry in the six Nations of the area - Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrein as host - by the spread of ideologies fundamentalists in their societies, even among young people.

In Kuwait, newspaper Arab Times today broadcast information, according to which relatives of several adolescents and young people asked the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and Awqaf (religious legacy) to make actions to counter a growing sympathy toward the Islamic State (ISIS) and other groups.

Relatives expressed their concern to the authorities of the Ministry and recognized that the tendency to praise the Takfirist Organization (Sunni Islamic terrorists) and others of equal cut is glaring not only men, but also girls.

The sources, initially mentioned by the Arabic newspaper Al-Qabas, pointed out that many of these young people expressed sympathies for extremists in their accounts on social networks, but assured that the government is already taking steps to 'protect them from falling into the trap of terrorism'.

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Police officer 'stabbed at UK Parliament'

A police officer has been stabbed in the Houses of Parliament in central London, Commons Leader David Lidington has said.

He told MPs the "alleged assailant was shot by armed police" following a "serious" incident.

Staff inside Parliament were told to stay inside their offices.

The BBC's Laura Kuenssberg said police told her someone had been shot and MPs said they heard "three or four gunshots".

Tom Peck, political editor for the Independent, tweeted: "There was a loud bang. Screams. Commotion. Then the sound of gunshots. Armed police everywhere."

Prime Minister Theresa May was seen being ushered into a silver Jaguar car as what sounded like gunfire rang out at Parliament during the incident.

A Downing Street source confirmed that Prime Minister Theresa May was "OK".

Scotland Yard said it was called to a firearms incident on Westminster Bridge amid reports of several people injured.

Transport for London said Westminster underground station has been shut at the police's request, and buses diverted.

Mr Lidington said: "It seems that a police officer has been stabbed, that the alleged assailant was shot by armed police.

"An air ambulance is currently attending the scene to remove the casualties.

"There are also reports of further violent incidents in the vicinity of the Palace of Westminster but I hope colleagues on all sides will appreciate that it'd be wrong of me to go into further details until we have confirmation from the police and from the House security authorities about what is going on."

An eye witness, Radoslaw Sikorski, a senior fellow at Harvard's Centre for European Studies, posted a video to Twitter purporting to show people lying injured in the road on Westminster Bridge.

He wrote: "A car on Westminster Bridge has just mowed down at least 5 people."

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8yo boy kills 5yo sister and injures brother with handgun

A Florida mother could face criminal charges after her 8-year-old son killed his younger sister and injured his brother with a handgun while they were home alone.

The 8-year-old boy is currently helping Jacksonville Police with inquiries into how he came into possession of the firearm and discharged a single fatal bullet from the gun. 

Police in Jacksonville say the three children had been left alone in an apartment for an “undetermined period of time” on Saturday, while their mother went to a local store.

Police believe the shooting at a Roosevelt Gardens apartment complex to be accidental but have not ruled out charges being filed.

“Our investigation revealed that at the time of the shooting, the only occupants inside the apartment were an 8-year-old boy, a 5-year-old girl and a four-year-old boy,” police chief Chris Butler said.

“The mother had left the apartment for an undetermined period of time, so the children were home alone.

“Somehow the 8-year-old boy got possession of a handgun and discharged the handgun one time, striking both of the other children.”

READ MORE: 13-year-old with fake gun shot by private investigator

The bullet struck the five-year-old girl, killing her, while her four-year-old brother suffered a “non-life-threatening gunshot wound.” He is being treated at a local hospital, where doctors expect him to make a full recovery.

Witnesses to the incident are still being interviewed.

“We believe that as an agency, in absence of any other information being developed, that unfortunately this is a tragic, accidental shooting,” Butler said.

He said there was nothing to indicate that the shooting was intentional.

The Florida Department of Children and Families, which offers child welfare services, is assisting with the case. Meanwhile, a therapist has been provided to the 8-year-old boy who fired the weapon.

Speaking at a police press conference, Butler said charges have not been filed against anyone “at this time” and admitted he was reluctant to comment on an active investigation.

However, he said that previous cases involving violence carried out by children have seen the parents charged.

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At Least 4 Dead, 12 Hurt in Shooting at Mexico Music Festival

The BPM organizers said the attack was perpetrated by a lone shooter. There was no official confirmation of the death toll.

At least four people were killed and 12 were injured early on Monday when a gunman opened fire outside the Blue Parrot nightclub in Mexico's Playa del Carmen resort during the BPM electronic music festival, organizers said in a statement.

The shooting represents a blow to Mexico's tourism industry, which has been one of the few bright spots in the economy thanks to a weak peso exchange rate.

The BPM organizers said three members of their security team were killed in the shooting, which it said was perpetrated by a lone shooter. There was no official confirmation of the death toll.

"We are overcome with grief over this senseless act of violence and we are cooperating fully with local law enforcement and government officials as they continue their investigation," BPM said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.

Videos purportedly shot at the scene shown on television and social media appear to show dancers ducking for cover and out on the streets running to safety.

The BPM festival, which was entering its 10th year, has grown to be one of the most important electronic music events in the world.

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5 dead, 9 injured in shooting at Fort Lauderdale Airport

News media are reporting that several people have been shot at Fort Lauderdale International Airport. Passengers seen assembling on the tarmac away from the airport building. (Jan 6) AP.

MIAMI — A gunman opened fire on passengers in a  baggage claim area at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport Friday,  killing 5 people and injuring nine, according to Sen. Bill Nelson. The gunman was taken into custody.

Not long after the incident, reports emerged of a second possible shooter in Terminal 1by a man described by police at the scene as a white male wearing a white tee-shirt . According to police radio traffic, an "active shooter" was in the upper floors of the terminal.

The Transportation Security Administration alerted on Twitter that there was an "active shooter" at the airport and cautioned people in the area to "shelter in place."

The second incident sent passengers dropping to the ground and cowering behind cars.

The senator, a Florida Democrat, tells MSNBC  that the initial gunman was identified as 26-year-old Esteban Santiago and was carrying a military I.D.

The Broward County sheriff's office reported "multiple dead" in the melee.

The shooting broke out around noon  beside the baggage claim area at Terminal 2, which serves Delta Airlines.

Witnesses said the gunman fired randomly at people gathered near a baggage carousel, reloading several times.

One passenger, Mark Lea, tells MSNBC that the man was "just randomly shooting people" with a 9 mm pistol, without saying a word to anyone. After emptying about 3 magazines of bullets, the shooter  then got down on the ground, spreadeagled and waited for police to come and subdue him.

Lea said the gunman was about 5-7, 165 pounds and was wearing a blue tee-shirt. He said the gunman did not say anything as he opened fire only a few feet away from him.

"He wasn't targeting anyone particular, just random shooting at people," Lea tells MSNBC.

Another witness. John Schicher, tells MSNBC that the shooter appeared to be wearing a blue Star Wars tee-shirt.

Early word on the incident came from a tweet b y Ari Fleischer, former White House spokesman for President George W. Bush.

"I'm at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport," Fleischer tweeted. "Shots have been fired. Everyone is running."

The shooting broke out on the lower level of the airport, according to reports from the scene.

@AriFleischer I'm at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport. Shots have been fired. Everyone is running.

Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood airport reported on Twitter an "ongoing incident" at the baggage claim area of Terminal 2. The area of gates D4 and D5  largely services Delta flights. Itg said that all services are temporarily suspect at the airport.

Broward County emergency medical units were dispatched to the tarmac near Terminal 2 where dozens of passengers were huddled together.

 

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Brazilian Penitentiary System Shows Social Abyss, says Researcher

Brasilia, Jan 6 (Prensa Latina) More than economic, social and racial inequity, the degrading Brazilian penitentiary system reflects today the abyss existing in terms of access to justice and guarantee of fundamental rights, said researcher Camila Nunes Dias.

To describe in one phrase the jail system of Brazil, I would say 'it is a machine to destroy persons, do away with their dignity, their health and their dreams', resumed the also professor at the Federal ABC University of Sao Paulo.

Interviewed by portal Vermelho, of the Brazilian Communist Party (PCdoB) regarding the massacre occurred at the beginning of this year at the Penitentiary Complex Anisio Jobim, in Manaus (Amazon), where 56 inmates were killed, described by president Michel Temer the eve as a 'terrifying accident'.

Following the bloody rebellion, the office of the High Commissioner of the United Nations for Human Rights said this is not an isolated case, but 'a reflection of the chronic situation' of the jails of Brazil.

In a message spread here, the UN High Commissioner demanded of Brazilian authorities to open 'an immediate, impartial and effective investigation' of the bloody incident and those resulting responsible be taken to justice.

Nunes Dias recognized it is difficult to describe the present scenario of the prisons in the country. It is a very big system with peculiarities in each state, but with something in common in every case: dreadful, degrading conditions of confinement, valued the member of the Study Nucleus on Violence of the Paulist university.

The jail institutions do nothing but submit inmates to suffering, violating their rights and stigmatizing them, deepening in them a 'criminal' identity, she indicated.

The eve, the interim head of the General Prosecution of the Republic (PGR), Nicolao Dino, announced they will investigate penitentiaries in the states of Amazon, Rio Grande do Sul, Pernambuco and Rondonia, in order to determine possible non-compliance of 'constitutional and infra-constitutional norms'.

The PGR recalled in a note broadcast here that the State of Brazil responds to the Interamerican System of Human Rights for violations detected in prisons of Rio Grande do Sul, Rondonia, Pernambuco, Maranhao and Sao Paulo.

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