President Maduro slams paramilitary attack on army barracks
VENEZUELA’S ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV) condemned “fascist” opposition thugs on Thursday for the abduction, torture and murder of one of its members.
The latest killing of a government supporter occurred in the city of Barquisimeto, west of the capital Caracas.
Pedro Josue Carrillo, from the Santa Rosa district in the east of the city, was abducted on Tuesday by masked men who bundled him into the back of a car.
Witnesses said they had shouted: “Grab him because he’s a Chavista” — a follower of the late president and PSUV founder Hugo Chavez.
Mr Carillo’s partially burnt remains, showing signs of torture, were discovered on Thursday in the town of Quibor — a stronghold of support for the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mud) coalition — to the west of Barquisimeto.
One of the witnesses called the atrocity “pure fascism,” while the local PSUV said it bore the hallmarks of Colombian paramilitaries whom President Nicolas Maduro has accused the Mud of hiring as muscle.
The opposition has begun urging Venezuelans living abroad to “hunt” diplomats, former officials and other government supporters in their adopted countries and harass them for their views.
Santa Rosa PSUV leader Eloy Rojas said another man had been tied to a tree and savagely beaten on suspicion of being a “Chavista” simply for wearing a red shirt with white stripes.
And he said a woman had died of a heart attack after Mud supporters blockaded two bridges into her neighbourhood, which prevented an ambulance from reaching her.
On Thursday morning, Mr Maduro denounced an attack on an army barracks in Tachira province on the Colombian border, which had been besieged by paramilitaries for seven hours the previous night.
The gunmen flattened and set fire to the gate before attempting to enter the base.
The president said: “They are attacking military units to provoke the worst, an escalation of violence.”
Meanwhile, the US Treasury Department announced personal sanctions against eight judges of Venezuela’s Supreme Justice Tribunal, including its president Maikel Moreno.
The judges ruled that the Mud-controlled National Assembly was sitting unconstitutionally after it swore in three delegates suspended of electoral fraud.
Speaking after a White House meeting with his Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos, US President Donald Trump blamed Venezuela’s government for the economic crisis in the country.
He said he would seek Colombia’s support for his effort to push Caracas into accepting opposition calls for an early presidential election.
But Mr Maduro offered some hope for an easing of food shortages after speaking to Vladimir Putin, saying that his Russian counterpart had pledged the delivery of 60,000 tons of wheat every month.
In a statement yesterday, a raft of Spanish trade unions gave their support to Mr Maduro’s government and its attempts to find a democratic solution to the crisis.