Post-election Venezuela: Violent crackdown by Chavista dictatorship worst in years
The situation in Venezuela is getting worse and more dire by the moment as the desperate Chavista dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro employes Castro-Cuban tactics to violently crackdown on the nation's growing pro-democracy opposition.
Venezuela crackdown deemed worst in years
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — National Guard troops beat dozens of opposition supporters inside a barracks for refusing to accept the government-certified electoral victory of Hugo Chavez's heir, a leading human rights lawyer charged Thursday in what he called Venezuela's worst political repression in six years.
Alfredo Romero said his group's lawyers also compiled evidence supporting opposition activists' claims that National Guard troops had used excessive force against protesters, including shooting some point-blank with plastic shotgun pellets.
As details of the crackdown emerged, Nicolas Maduro prepared to be sworn in as president and the speaker of the National Assembly again threatened to bar the opposition from its only remaining political platform, the legislature, unless it recognized Maduro's legitimacy.
Romero said the beatings occurred at National Guard barracks No. 47 in the western city of Barquisimeto after at least 300 protesters were arrested across Venezuela for backing opposition candidate Henrique Capriles' demand for a recount of all the votes cast Sunday.
Interrogators "put baseball caps on these kids' heads with a pro-government insignia ... and made them say they recognized the Maduro government, and if they said 'No' they were beaten," Romero said, adding that most of the detainees ranged in age from 15 to 22.
Asked about the allegations, Interior Ministry spokesman Jorge Galindo called them "totally false, absurd and without basis." He said the detainees, though in a military barracks, were being overseen by ministry officials to "guarantee their rights."
Romero called the crackdown Venezuela's worst since Chavez shut down the opposition TV station RCTV in 2006 when more than 250 people were arrested. His 12-year-old group, Foro Penal Venezolano, has more than 200 lawyers who represent without charge people they consider political prisoners.
He said the group has complained to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, whose rulings Venezuela's government no longer recognizes, and is preparing a complaint to the International Criminal Court.
One of the worst cases of excessive force this week occurred in the central city of Valencia, members of the opposition's youth wing said in Caracas.
They said National Guardsmen fired plastic pellets at extremely close range at a group protesting the regime-friendly National Electoral Council's decision to ratify the victory of Nicolas Maduro.
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