CARACAS – Venezuelan opposition lawmakers said on Thursday that security forces used rubber bullets and tear gas to suppress a citizens’ march to the election authority headquarters to express the public’s rejection of the constitutional assembly convened by the government to draft a new constitution.
“The ... National Guard arrived behind the demonstrators firing rubber bullets at everyone, firing tear gas,” lawmaker Miguel Pizarro said in a video posted on Twitter in which he chastised the security forces for opening fire on “women, young boys, grandparents ... without saying a word” in advance.
EFE was able to verify that the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB), Venezuela’s militarized police, used tear gas to disperse marchers heading toward the National Election Council (CNE) offices from several points around Caracas.
The protesters tried to regroup to continue advancing toward the CNE, which had been surrounded since Thursday morning by security forces.
Other lawmakers with the majority parliamentary opposition reported on the social networks that the GNB dispersed the demonstrators or prevented them from approaching the local CNE offices in the states of Lara, Zulia, Carabobo, Merida and Nueva Esparta.
“Regrettably (there were) injured people in Merida from the brutal police and GNB repression in the service of the dictatorship, among them Angelo Quintero, bullet wound,” said a lawmaker for the western state of Merida, Williams Davila, on Twitter.
Opposition sources reported the police closure of streets leading to the CNE in Caracas.
Before the marches began, the Bolivarian National Police (PNB) used tear gas to disperse the protesters gathered on Altamira Square in Caracas.
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles attributed the police action to the “desperation” of President Nicolas Maduro, whose resignation is being demanded by his opponents along with the holding of elections, and who is accused by the opposition of trying to install a “dictatorship” in the country.
Since April 1, Venezuela has been beset with both pro- and anti-government demonstrations, many of which have degenerated into violence leaving at least 79 people dead and more than 1,000 injured.
The members of the constitutional assembly convened by Maduro are scheduled to be elected in a nationwide vote on July 30.