There have been a lot of turbulent moments in Venezuela recently, but the latest events seem to be on a whole new level.
It started last week when opposition leader Henrique Capriles, a two-time presidential candidate, was banned from public office for 15 years.
Another opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, has been in prison on phony charges since 2014.
Hugo Chavez’s handpicked successor as president, Nicolas Maduro, has meanwhile presided over the utter collapse of the Venezuelan economy.
Angry demonstrations have erupted throughout the country and met with a brutal response by the government.
According to an observer at the indispensable Caracas Chronicles website:
State forces no longer want to dissuade or disperse, now they give chase, they harass, they shoot directly at protests, steal, attack and even shoot tear gas from helicopters, even though it’s a crime according to the Law on Civil Aviation. They keep shooting bombs against residential buildings, malls, clinics and hospitals, compromising the recovery of the most vulnerable citizens. The idea is to ban marches altogether, preventing the opposition to call for rallies.
The regime can no longer mobilize huge turnouts of loyalists (largely public employees) as it used to.
In the former chavista stronghold of San Felix Tuesday night, Maduro was driven through a crowd of what did not appear to be adoring masses.
— Luz Mely Reyes (@LuzMelyReyes) April 12, 2017