As the oppressive regime of leftist autocrat Nicolas Maduro intensifies its crackdown on anti-government protesters who have been gathering daily in the streets of Caracas and other Venezuelan cities to demand regime change, the government’s body count continues to climb. Last week, one such government-sanctioned killing was caught on video. The chilling footage shows Venezuelan soldiers shooting a 22-year-old rioter in the chest after he hurled rocks at them.
The Associated Press reports that at least four people were killed and eight injured during anti-government protests in central Venezuela on Saturday. The deaths brought to at least 80 the number of people killed since anti-government protests erupted three months ago.
“Chief prosecutor Luis Ortega Diaz confirmed that four deaths occurred Friday in clashes in Barquisimeto. The city's mayor blamed the deaths on armed militias that support Venezuela's socialist government.”
The deaths occurred as Ortega Diaz - who has had the temerity to stand up to Maduro and question his late-March decision to dissolve the opposition-controlled National Assembly - asked the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for protection Friday, days after Venezuela's Supreme Court barred her from leaving the country and ordered her bank accounts froze, according to the Associated Press.
Ortega Diaz is one of the few remaining Maduro critics who haven’t already been removed from power, challenging Maduro's push to rewrite the constitution and pressing charges against officers responsible for deaths during anti-government protests.
Her latest crime? Her office announced this past week that it would summon the chief of Venezuela's feared Sebin intelligence agency, Gustavo Gonzalez, to appear on suspicion of "committing grave and systemic violations of human rights."
Maduro responded to Ortega Diaz's decision by promoting Gonzalez to head of the nation's army.
Here’s more on that from the AP:
Prosecutors said they are investigating incidents of illegitimate detentions, arbitrary raids and cases in which people have remained imprisoned despite court orders that they be freed.
Maduro responded hours later by promoting Gonzalez to head the nation's army. He called Gonzalez and Antonio Benavides Torres, another high-ranking official under investigation by the state prosecutor, "brave patriots."
"They have defended the peace of the republic and have all my support," Maduro said.
Maduro has tightened his grip on power and cracked down on his political opposition as the collapse in oil prices – the Venezuelan government’s primary source of revenue – coupled with years of economic mismanagement by Maduro precipitated an unprecedented economic crisis in the country. The collapse of Venezuela’s currency, the bolivar, which trades on the black market at a rate of nearly 8,000 to the dollar, triggered hyperinflation that has made bare essentials like flour, meat, medicine and toilet paper unavailable to the general population.