Caracas, February 19, 2015 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – In the latest round of opposition street violence, a group of masked youth violently assaulted an unarmed official of the Bolivarian Air Force in the wealthy Caracas neighborhood of Chacao on Wednesday.
The attack came hours after an act commemorating one year since the arrest of Voluntad Popular leader Leopoldo Lopez, who is facing trial for his role in fuelling the violent opposition street protests, known as the "Guarimbas", that rocked Venezuelan cities for months during the first third of 2014.
At around 2 pm, a group of hooded protesters, calling themselves "the resistance", erected a street barricade of burning garbage at the intersection of Elice and Avenue Francisco Miranda, resulting in the closure of two entrances to the Metro.
Upon spotting a lone air force sergeant later identified as Luis Alejandro Linares Espinoza, they surrounded him and began to violently attack him with repeated blows to the head. With the help of a local store clerk, Linares temporarily escaped, taking refuge in his nearby store.
Shouting "kill him," dozens of hooded individuals subsequently forced their way into the local business continued to beat Linares with fists and blunt objects. With knives, scalpels, and other miscellaneous lethal objects in hand, they yell with with unmistakably upper class accents, "we're going to kill you.”
One protester screams, "you're going to die, motherfucker, it's your fault my mother is in jail, you'll pay for it," appearing to indicate that those involved in the attack were implicated in last year's rightwing street violence.
After the owner of the business successfully escorts Linares behind a closed door, the protesters respond with threats of further violence.
"Move out of the way, or I'm going to smack you up," says one masked protester
"Get him out now, or I'll burn your business down," threatens another, referring to the beleaguered sergeant.
"I'm going to force you out with bullets, motherfucker," yells a third.
Upon exiting the store, the protesters proceed to go on a rampage in the surrounding upper class zone. A video shows them hurling rocks at a passing government jeep, shattering several windows, and then moving on to attack the Chacao metro with stones and other hard objects
The masked protesters were subsequently forced to return to their barricade by the arrival of the National Guard, whom they attacked with projectiles. By 4 pm, the protesters had fled the scene.
The Venezuelan Public Ministry is also currently in the process of investigating attacks by demonstrators against two journalists covering Wednesday's outbreak of rightwing violence for Zurda Konducta, a youth-oriented program on state television
Jean Carlos Corrales Mendoza and cameraman Leonardo de Leon Gonzalez were filming the protest when they came under attack by dozens of hooded youth hurling bottles, rocks, and other solid objects. They suffered a number of injuries before being rescued by the National Guard.
For local residents, Wednesday's violence served as yet another reminder of last year's violent protests in which opposition violence took the lives of 43 people, the majority security personnel and Chavistas, and caused millions of dollars of damage as part of a concerted effort to force the salida, or ouster of President Nicolas Maduro.
Readers can find a video recording of the violent events here.