This happened Saturday at an outdoor rally. The arrows identify the gunman in the background and Juan Guaido in the foreground:
— Joshua Goodman (@APjoshgoodman) February 29, 2020
Guaido himself tweeted a response to the photo which reads: “Seeing the dictatorship sign up for me and our people neither scares me nor scares us. When I entered this I knew what I was exposed to. What is unforgivable is that there is a severely injured 16-year-old boy, when all he claims is his right to live in Freedom.”
Ver a la dictadura apuntarnos a mí y a nuestra gente ni me amedrenta ni nos asusta. Cuando entré en esto sabía a lo que me exponía.
Lo que no tiene perdón es que haya un muchacho de 16 años herido gravemente, cuando lo único que reclama es su derecho a vivir en Libertad. https://t.co/an4icGPbB3
— Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) February 29, 2020
Guaido’s staff also released this letter in English about the incident. The letter cites the colectivo attack as proof the Maduro regime behaves like a criminal organization:
INTERNATIONAL ALERT – #Venezuela
(INTERNATIONAL ALERT FROM THE OFFICE OF THE INTERIM PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC IN THE FACE OF THE ATTACKS SUFFERED DURING AN ENCOUNTER WITH THE CIVIL SOCIETY IN BARQUISIMETO- LARA STATE)@jguaido pic.twitter.com/XHvMD8YIoq
— Embajada de Venezuela en Canadá (@EmbajadaVE_CA) March 1, 2020
Sen. Marco Rubio also tweeted about the incident this morning: “The act of cowardice against the interim president of #Venezuela @jguaido in #Barquisimeto which was carried out by armed criminals, evidence that the regime can only resort to violence because it has no international legitimacy or majority support.”
El acto de cobardia en contra del presidente interino de #Venezuela @jguaido en #Barquisimeto que se llevó a cabo por criminales armados, evidencia que el régimen solo puede recurrir a la violencia pues no tiene legitimidad internacional ni apoyo mayoritario.
— Senator Rubio Press (@SenRubioPress) March 2, 2020
The Associated Press was given the photo by Juan Guaido’s staff. It published a story about the incident Saturday:
Socialist hard-liners in Venezuela opened fire during a march headed by Juan Guaido, injuring a 16-year-old demonstrator and adding to tensions in the country as the opposition leader seeks to revive his campaign to oust Nicolas Maduro.
A photo of the confrontation provided exclusively to The Associated Press shows a masked man brandishing a pistol pointed toward a group of opposition activists, including Guaido, who can be seen staring down the man…
The confusing incident Saturday in the central city of Barquisimeto is believed to be the first time pro-government vigilantes known as colectivos have aimed a weapon at Guaido, who the U.S. and more than 50 other countries recognize as Venezuela’s rightful leader after Maduro’s reelection in 2018 in a race marred by irregularities.
The man in the photo did not open fire after the photo was taken but later the colectivos did attack the marchers. A 16-year-old was shot in the thigh. The photo in this Daily Mail tweet shows the injury.
Shocking moment masked man points gun at Venezuela's opposition leader during a march https://t.co/uhbkg1cddX
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) March 2, 2020
The colectivos are a long-time feature of Venezuela’s socialist government that were a common sight during Hugo Chavez’s rule. They usually ride motorcycles and show up to harass and threaten anti-regime protesters. Some additional photos of the colectivos:
— Sergio Novelli (@SergioNovelli) February 29, 2020