Venezuelan apartment complex residents face massive raid

Venezuelan protesters -- now known as "The Resistance" -- continued their secretive efforts with more caution after an overnight raid at an apartment building complex in Caracas. 

An armored truck plowed through a metal gate. Dozens of heavily armed men, dressed all in black and with their faces covered, forced their way into five residential buildings in Los Verdes and searched every corner.

Some two dozen residents of Los Verdes stand accused of being involved in an attack on a Venezuelan National Guard captain and three sergeants, according to Nestor Reverol, Venezuela's interior minister. 

President Nicolas Maduro referred to them as terrorists, but some of the residents of Los Verdes, a traditionally socialist neighborhood, said they fear the ruling socialist regime.

"We were surrounded and they were spreading terror," said Beatriz Rachadel, a resident at the complex.  

They broke security systems, kicked down doors, destroyed elevators, broke windows, opened fire on locks, took cellphones, broke into cars to take sound systems and they killed at least one pet dog, according to residents. 
 
Maduro's continued use of riot troops and special forces to deal with civil disorder is not always targeted. They are instilling fear as part of a strategy that opposition leader Maria Corina Machado told The Associated Press was more like "state terrorism." 
 
The Los Verdes raid happened about a month after security forces' tear gas spilled into homes, a hospital and schools during a street fight in the coastal city of Maracaibo. Videos of the bloody standoff regularly make it to social media.  
 
Volunteers rushed children still in diapers, others in strollers and the elderly in wheelchairs out of a building. Juan Diego Amado, an opposition activist, said he rushed to help about four children who were gasping to breathe. He said the incident was heartbreaking, as there were many coughing and in tears.

 
Many are growing tired of the crisis that is engulfing Venezuela, and the protests have become a family affair for some. It's no longer unusual to see grandparents and children at the front lines. At least six of the 67 killed during the protests were age 18 and younger. 
 
Miguel Pizarro, a 29-year-old opposition lawmaker, saw a 17-year-old protester killed in Caracas. He was in tears and shaking when he said, "For this to stop happening, we need to change this country.  
 
Protesters who are demanding a presidential election to improve the situation in Venezuela are facing charges such as rebellion against the military and treason to the homeland. There is also opportunistic looting and strategic arson.  
 
In Caracas, the regular street fights include armored vehicles that student protesters have nicknamed "The Rhinos" and water cannons known as "The Whales."  
 
A passer-by risks getting hit by rubber bullets, marbles, shards of glass, rocks, Molotov cocktails, tear-gas canisters or getting shot and killed. Getting detained could mean robbery, beatings, torture and ending up in a military tribunal. 

When the protests began after the Supreme Court ruled to weaken the democratically elected congress, protesters were unprepared for the repression. Now "The Resistance" facing Maduro's riot troops wear home made and donated protective gear.

Some carry shields and wear helmets, gas masks, chest protectors, leg guards and shin guards to the streets. They are armed with slingshots and add nails to wooden clubs to defend themselves. They have delegated tasks. The more agile ones deal with the flying tear-gas canisters.

Medical students continue to volunteer to treat the wounded. Law school students rush to document human rights violations. With 20 percent unemployment, some of the professionals who are unable to leave the country are joining in. 

Maduro refers to them as "terrorists." Authorities have arrested at least 3,000 linked to the protests. If found guilty of crimes in military tribunals, some student organizers could face decades in prison. But the rabble-rousers' anger and frustration follows hunger and desperation. 

The opposition managed to win the majority of seats in the National Assembly mostly due to the country's triple-digit inflation and high crime rate. When the Supreme Court moved to strip the Assembly of its last powers, there was international outrage and the justices reversed the decision. 

Maduro's response was to push to rewrite the nation’s constitution, which his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, had changed before his death. He is not yielding to pressure to hold elections and his opposition fears the move is meant to get rid of the electoral calendar. 

Henrique Capriles, a prominent opposition leader, worries about Maduro's move to continue to militarize law enforcement in Venezuela. He told Reuters that Maduro bought 150 armored vehicles from China North Industries Group, also known as Norinco, to continue his repression in Caracas. 

Leopoldo Lopez, an opposition leader, remains in prison, but his efforts to crack Maduro's socialist regime continue. On Sunday, he managed to tweet a message trying to prompt dissent in the military. It was recorded in his prison cell.

"You have the right and duty to rebel," Lopez said. 

Leopoldo Lopez video in Spanish:

 

This BBSNews article was syndicated from News | WPLG, and written by News | WPLG. Read the original article here.