As International Pressure Builds, Maduro Unleashes his Thugs on the Venezuelan People

Weeks into the crisis of power plaguing Venezuela, reports are beginning to circulate on armed gangs attacking those in opposition to the current government.

According to international media, groups of masked motorcyclists were seen arriving in small towns along Venezuela’s border with Colombia.

Typically attackers respond to demonstrators protesting against the autocratic President Nicolás Maduro. With pistols, they initially fire warning shots in the air to scare away participants. They then form roadblocks to shake down dissidents and, late into the night, prowl debris-strewn streets to patrol for more “enemies of the state.”

Most recently, the Maduro-backed gangs, called colectivos, conducted an all-out assault in the north-western city of San Antonio del Tachira. The men terrorized groups of thousands who tried to usher humanitarian aid into the country from Colombia. According to reports, the men brutalized the residents that had gathered near the international bridge where food and medicine were waiting.

The tactic of deploying the colectivos is an old one for the Maduro regime. Back in 2017, the last time mass protests erupted against the government, the same motorcycle-mounted gunmen were unleashed to put down demonstrations. Reports from the spring of that year describe bikers in uniforms of red jackets and dark clothes, confronting thousands of protesters in Caracas. They would begin with crowd dispersal weapons such as tear gas. After that they would open fire.

While the government maintains a passive, plausible deniability, the colectivos are in fact armed and fully sanctioned by the Maduro government.

As government-sanctioned violence against civilians continues to increase, it will only bolster the demands from Venezuela’s opposition that the international community consider military intervention to oust Maduro.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Samuel Siskind

Samuel Siskind studied intelligence research at the American Military University in West Virginia. He served as a squad commander in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) Corp of Combat Engineers, in the Corps' ground battalions and later in its Intelligence Wing at regional and divisional stations. For the past five years, Samuel has worked as a consultant and researcher on physical and information security issues for private and governmental institutions, in the US, Africa, India, and Israel. He currently lives in Jerusalem.

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