On February 29, violent armed groups associated with the former and illegitimate Maduro regime in Venezuela opened fire on a pro-democracy march headed by Interim President Juan Guaidó, injuring a 16-year-old demonstrator.The attack, which took place in the Venezuelan city of Barquisimeto, is reported to be the first time that vigilantes known as colectivos have aimed a weapon at the Interim President.
According to news reports, armed thugs shot up the rear windshield of the SUV that Guaidó was riding in.Alfredo Ramos, former Barquisimeto mayor and opposition supporter, said Guaidó was “ambushed” by about 200 armed colectivo members and government security forces loyal to the Nicolás Maduro regime.
In a conversation with the injured activist, Guaidó urged “courage and strength.We’re going to achieve freedom for our country,” he said.The Interim President later issued a call for more demonstrations on March 10.“It’s time to increase decisively and without fear the actions and pressure on the tyranny headed by Maduro,” Guaidó said in a statement.
Despite Venezuela’s vast oil wealth, Maduro’s gross mismanagement of the economy has driven 4.5 million people to flee the country. Runaway inflation and shortages of basic necessities such as food, medicine, and clean water have made life for the average Venezuelan extremely difficult. As Daniel Antequera, an opposition lawmaker from the Barquisimeto region, said, “They won’t be able to stop an entire country that is starving and that understands the only way to progress is through democracy and liberty.”
The United States condemned the attack on Venezuelans protesting in Barquisimeto, noting that Guaidó is an inspiration to all freedom-loving Venezuelans, and contrasted their courage with the cowardice of the masked and armed colectivos that do the authoritarian Maduro regime’s bidding. The Virtual United States Embassy Venezuela tweeted that these “acts of despair and violence against freedom of expression and peace are another reminder of how the world should defend [Venezuela].Democracy cannot be intimidated.”