Venezuelans are now almost six weeks in to widespread protests and ongoing violence, and there’s just no end in sight — and the death toll from those protests is now up to 31 people, with hundreds upon hundreds more injured and thrown in jail. The scapegoatism and the wild conspiracy theories about imperialist instigators and greedy businessman supposedly waging an “economic war” against Nicolas Maduro are still the only responses to the basic-good shortages and rampant crime rate crippling the country that the regime has to offer, besides trumped-up arrests and sending military, paramilitary, and vigilante forces into the fold to try and deter large groups of mainly middle-to-upper class young people from assembling. The latest from the BBC:
Riot police in Venezuela have clashed with anti-government demonstrators who were protesting against the arrest of two opposition mayors. …
The clashes came a day after Daniel Ceballos and Enzo Scarano were detained over their alleged role in weeks of unrest that has left 31 people dead. …
[Maduro] has blamed the violence on “fascist groups”. …
Juan Requesens, a student leader at the protest, said the two mayors were “victims of persecution, abuse, and wrongful arrest”. …
Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez tried to distance the government from the arrests.
“It’s important that Venezuelans understand that the bodies of the state, in this case not the government, act to protect the right of majorities, and not the rights of a small group that wants, under the guise of the right to protest, to mar the lives of Venezuelans,” he said in a televised news conference.
Huh. ‘Small groups’ with ‘minority’ opinions have no rights? …So that’s how they do it in Venezuela. Man, I can really see what Maduro means about these protests being all about fascism/terrorism:
Venezuela’s president said on Friday that street protests for the past month have caused at least $10 billion in damage, accusing hardline foes of carrying out terrorist acts to sabotage public assets.
President Nicolas Maduro did not say how the government arrived at that figure from the clashes between demonstrators barricading roads, pro-government radicals and security forces that have killed at least 31 people.
“The minority who want a coup have done so much damage to the country … they burnt a public university where hundreds of young people studied,” he said in a nationally televised speech.
“This isn’t protest. It’s vandalism. It’s terrorism.”
…The heart bleeds. Meanwhile, over in the U.S. Congress, a handful of senators are rallying support to try and push sanctions, via BuzzFeed:
Both the House and the Senate have passed resolutions condemning the actions of the Maduro regime — but lawmakers are impatient for more action, especially from the Obama administration, and exasperated by the lack of American media coverage.
“I wish the Malaysian jet would land in Venezuela because then we would get coverage,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican.
“What’s going on there is horrific, it’s horrific,” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, another Florida Republican said. “What’s going on there is getting very little attention and almost no attention from our administration.” …
Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart are leading the House effort to rally support for a bill that would impose sanctions on Venezuelan officials and authorize funds for civil organizations and protesters; a companion bill is currently working through the Senate.