By Carlos Camacho.
A severe drop in the Bolivar/US dollar parity now means minimum wage Venezuelans make less than $1 month, fanning the fires of violent street protests that began a week ago triggered by gasoline shortages. The Nicolas Maduro regime responds by intensifying repression.
So far, 61 demonstrators have arrested, half of them in Yaracuy, in five days of protests, according to the regime.
Regime law enforcement has buckshot demonstrators at close range in Cumana, wrestled elderly protesters to the ground in Lara, and spent countless tear-gas grenades trying to asphyxiate protest.
All of those behaviors and tactics were denounced in a report issued by the United Nations last week, in which Maduro, his Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, and Nestor Reverol, his minister of the Interior, all stand accused of egregious, varied, and various crimes against humanity, including extrajudicial executions, torture and systematic rape of demonstrators and other political foes.
The country is living a new cycle of protestation, which Venezuela has been through continuously since Maduro took over in 2013. But now, add the accusation against Maduro by the UN of crimes against humanity.
Tuesday in Maracaibo, after several days of protest, the local ally of Maduro, governor Omar Prieto, denouncing the opposition for the violence, but promising that gasoline would arrive and that electricity rationing was going to be limited to only four hours a day and not the usual 12.
The promises of Prieto and other regime figures did not suffice. Even the prisoners of a provisional makeshift regime jail in Zulia took to the streets Tuesday morning to protest the fact that regime law enforcement was not allowing visits, food, or medicine inside that prison.
Guards did not try to stop them, as they demonstrated in a lonely street outside of the prison. There were not even guards visible in the videos posted by human-rights NGO Ventana a la Libertad, among others.
Governor Prieto admitted to deploying 150 extra law enforcement agents in Maracaibo, the capital of Zulia state, but just as a precaution. “We have a preventive security deployment in the state in response to the call of groups that are trying to create violence. We are not going to allow any sabotage. An opposition leader is calling to take the headquarters of Corpoelec,” said Prieto, surrounded by military and police officers.
At least 30 officials surrounded the Corpoelec headquarters in the Amparo sector of Zulia. After a while, however, Prieto promised to hunt down demonstrators if necessary: “If we have to go to their house to look for them, we will go,” he threatened.