Tensions rose for the sixth consecutive week in Venezuela as anti-government protesters gathered rocks and even jars filled with feces to hurl at police. The protesters were met with opposition from police in the form of tear gas.
Thousands of protesters on foot, in cars, and even on motorcycles have taken to the streets since the Supreme Court’s ruling issued on March 29. The decision, which nullified the opposition-controlled National Assembly, was reversed soon afterwards as a result of international criticism and harsh backlash from Venezuelan citizens.
The U.S. still has its fair share of economic issues, even after the conclusion of the housing crisis and the Great Recession, which officially ended seven years ago. In fact, one out of every 200 homes is still foreclosed upon. But Venezuela’s ongoing economic crisis has surpassed the use of terms like “recession” or “depression.” Rather, it seems the nation is on the brink of civil war.
At least 38 people have been killed in the recent protests and hundreds more have been injured. But even as the death toll rises, protesters have vowed to remain on the streets.
Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have come together to reprimand President Nicolas Maduro’s administration, which the opposition believes is responsible for extreme inflation, devastating food shortages, and severe hikes in crime. Thus far, the government’s response to the protesters has drawn international criticism.
Tear gas, rubber bullets, and a number of other tactics have been increasingly used to push protesters back. But those methods aren’t the most extreme.
A secret recording of a regional command meeting has revealed that a Venezuelan general issued orders to prepare for the use of snipers against protesters. According to the Miami Herald, the general claimed they were prepared for a civil war.
Despite mounting evidence of the general’s violent plans, the Venezuelan military has publicly claimed that lethal force has not and will not be used against protesters.
Protesters aren’t always aiming for violence, either. Since the most recent round of protests against Maduro started in April, Venezuelans have varied their approach. Silent marches, candle-lit vigils, and various peaceful rallies for the arts have all been staged within the last few weeks as well.
While the future of Venezuela’s socialist government is uncertain, it’s clear in the present that Venezuela is reaching a tipping point.