Caracas, Venezuela. The simmering violence seems to hold a long hot summer in store for Venezuelans caught in an economic implosion, color revolution and pending civil war.
Looting, barricades and riots are now commonplace all around Venezuela, as the protests have spin out of control, given hunger, hopelessness, easy access to weapons and gangs taking advantage of the chaos. Seven people died in protests there in the last few days.
Following nearly two months of protests demanding an early presidential vote, the pro-government electoral council on Tuesday said voting for a controversial “constituent assembly” would be held in July and delayed state elections until December 2017.
President Maduro’s foes countered that was a sham designed to confuse Venezuelans, prompt infighting among the opposition over strategy, and allow the unpopular leftist government to dodge free and fair elections they would likely lose.
Venezuelans barricaded streets in parts of Caracas and the opposition geared up for another protest today as the announcement of two election dates failed to appease anger against President Nicolas Maduro and an economy in tailspin.
Opposition supporters planned to march to the electoral council on Wednesday, although the demonstration would likely be blocked by National Guard soldiers. Over and over in the last weeks, troops and police have faced off with masked youths hurling stones and Molotov cocktails.
In many places, schools are cancelled, public transport is halted, and streets are barricaded. Some neighbourhoods look like war zones after nighttime pillaging of bakeries and warehouses.
The South American OPEC member has been racked by strife since early April, with at least 55 people killed as protests and anger boiled over due to an economic meltdown.
Over 2,700 people have been arrested since early April, with more than 1,100 still behind bars and some 330 being tried in military tribunals, according to rights group Penal Forum.