Despite zero coverage from major international media outlets, widespread accounts on social media and some Venezuelan news sources are reporting growing incidences of brutal beatings and even lynchings of Chavista supporters around Venezuela, including on major avenues in Caracas in broad daylight.
In at least one documented incident, the man attacked did not identify as a supporter of Chávez or of the Bolivarian government, but he was assumed so by a mob that attacked him based on his skin color. Right wing supporters are disproportionately whiter and from wealthier neighborhoods; the man in question was Afro-descendant and reportedly from a barrio of Caracas. He was reportedly accused by right wing protesters of being an infiltrator before the mob set upon him.
Another graphic video emerged of a mob of protesters ganging up on an Afro-descendant man in Caracas and brutally beating him before one right wing protester appeared to throw gasoline or another accelerant on him, setting him on fire. The man burst into flames that grew even more severe as he attempted to run away down the street. The incident took place near Plaza Altamira, in an upscale neighborhood in the center of Caracas’ well-to-do east side — home base for the increasingly-violent right wing protests, known as “guarimbas.” In the filmed incident circulating on social media, the man is reported to have survived the attack, and he is receiving medical attention for third-degree burns on 80% of his body.
In another incident in Mérida, circulating on social media with approving commentary by the right wing’s supporters, a graphic photo set depicts a man being dragged off of his motorcycle, stripped naked, and lynched by a mob of protesters. Captions accompanying the photo set claim that he was an off-duty police officer who fired on a crowd of protesters, but these reports are unverified.
The most recent wave of right wing protests aimed at violent government destabilization began in late March, when the Supreme Court assumed limited temporary jurisdiction over the right wing-controlled National Assembly, owing to the refusal of three Assemblymembers under corruption investigation to cede their posts.
Rather than ensuring the restored function of the Assembly by calling for the resignation of these Assemblymembers, the right wing accused the government of a “self-coup” and called for the widespread protests that have now destroyed massive amounts of public property (buses, public computer labs, cultural centers, clinics — including a maternity ward) and that have become increasingly violent, with protesters enjoying an impunity that would be unimaginable almost anywhere else — even as the right wing accuses the government of repression.
The destructive, often violent, and grotesque character of the right wing protests appears to have alienated many of their supporters. On April 19th, when political leaders from both the right wing and left wing called for mass marches, record crowds gathered to show support for the Bolivarian government.
The Bolivarian government has called for a constituent assembly in an attempt to bring about a political resolution, but right wing political leadership has vowed to boycott this process. Meanwhile, the right wing political leaders refuse to publicly condemn the violence and, in many cases, seem to encourage it, joined by Luis Almagro and the Organization of American States, in a push for U.S. intervention.
The most comprehensive list of protest-related deaths to-date can be found here (in Spanish).
It is essential that progressive people around the world denounce this right-wing mob violence that is taking place daily against the Bolivarian movement. The international media outlets that portray the conflict as one of a dictator against a peaceful protest movement are simply lying, and giving cover to this counter-revolutionary violence.