Is Western Media Ignoring a Violent Political Crackdown in Venezuela?
Reports of paramilitary groups trawling middle class neighborhoods for potential protesters
Venezuela has seen protests against Nicolas Maduro's failing government for weeks, and they escalated after opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez surrendered himself to government authorities on charges of inciting violence.
Francisco Toro at the Caracas Chronicles writes that a state-sponsored campaign of violence in Venezuela last night has changed the nature of what's happening in the country:
There are now dozens of serious human right abuses: National Guardsmen shooting tear gas canisters directly into residential buildings. We have videos of soldiers shooting civilians on the street. And that's just what came out in real time, over Twitter and YouTube, before any real investigation is carried out. Online media is next, a city of 645,000 inhabitants has been taken off the internet amid mounting repression, and this blog itself has been the object of a Facebook "block" campaign.
What we saw were not "street clashes", what we saw is a state-hatched offensive to suppress and terrorize its opponents.
After the major crackdown on the streets of major (and minor) Venezuelan cities last night, I expected some kind of response in the major international news outlets this morning. I understand that with an even bigger and more photogenic freakout ongoing in an even more strategically important country, we weren't going to be front-page-above-the-fold, but I'm staggered this morning to wake up, scan the press and find…
Read the whole thing, full of links, here.
According to Reuters, a 17-year-old beauty queen shot yesterday was the fifth fatality of the unrest. President Obama criticized the arrest of protesters by the Venezuelan government while in Mexico yesterday, and urged it to address "legitimate grievances."