Saying that Venezuela is on fire would be a mild description of what people are living all over the country, especially in some rural areas.
The State of Tachira, on the border with Colombia, is only one example of how violence has crawled up to people’s homes on a daily basis.
While teenagers and youngsters fight Maduro’s Army and U.S. sponsored terrorists on the street, some people haven’t had to leave their homes to experience the violence that has taken over the country.
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We got first hand testimony from residents from San Cristobal, in the State of Tachira, who are just too afraid to go out on the street because of the continuous repression from Maduro’s death squads.
Near his home, Daniel, a San Cristobal resident, witnessed in various occasions how army personnel dressed in black suits and masks left their headquarters in vans and trucks to terrorise residents who dared challenge Maduro during street protests.
People are picked up on the street by masked men and taken away without charge. In a matter of days or weeks and without a proper trial, they are processed for challenging the government.
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Later, they appear before a military judge without any legal advice and are then convicted of using their free speech to denounce Maduro’s abuses.
The following is part of Daniel’s unedited testimony:
“On the day of the referendum – Sunday – where there was only one winner, without observers, without opposition and where impunity reigned all over, I was able to see how government forces violently attacked people who protest and demand a better future and a better quality of life.
There is an Army post near my house in San Cristobal. I’ve seen large amounts of army personnel leaving the place hiding their faces with black masks and armed with heavy weapons. They leave in large trucks to attack people who protest on the street. They attack and kill them. They don’t approve of freedom of speech. They don’t care if we are hungry of if we have access to medicine.”
According to Daniel, many voting centres in his city were practically empty, as people were afraid to go out and cast their vote. Voter participation was low, despite official data that estimated some 8 million people as having cast their votes.
“There was very low participation because people are exhausted in the middle of so much misery, violence and corruption. The reality is that in my country we cannot get a hold of food, medicine or any other basic services. Only Maduro supporters get access to food banks through their carnet de la patria” or food bank card.
People are persecuted for thinking differently. They perform express trials and send youngsters to jail via military tribunals, just because they protest against an authoritarian regime.”
Daniel himself is familiar with members of the colectivos armados, Maduro’s death squads. He says he knows some members of that group.
“They grew up with me. They are armed and go out to attack people who oppose Maduro’s government,” he says.
According to Daniel, the colectivos armados have a license to kill with impunity, to destroy private property with the complacency of the authorities.
“Only those of us who live in Venezuela really know what it is like to see this happening every day. No one from outside can faithfully describe and tell you what we live here,” he says.
In addition to having to deal with death squads, residents of San Cristobal in the State of Tachira also have to take care of army snipers, who set up their large rifles on roof tops to take out street protesters.
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Daniel’s brother Emilio, who now leaves outside Venezuela is updated daily by his mother and relatives about their concerns.
They tell how army snipers fire from long distance against Venezuelan’s but how they sat idle when Colombian paramilitary threatened their lives from across the border.
Emilio rarely see his relatives, some of whom have moved to Argentina to avoid being targeted by government thugs.
Often, residents are caught up between military police and U.S. sponsored agent provocateurs, who are on the street attempting to turn unrest into chaos. This situation is more palpable in Caracas, where opposition parties are more prevalent.
As in other South American countries, Venezuela lacks a real opposition force, which leaves people without an option to vote for.
While the Maduro regime strives for survival and attempts to grab more power, U.S. supported groups such as the one led by Enrique Capriles, offer little or no alternative to people like Daniel who see their country slowly and painfully melt down due to the violence, the hunger and the corruption they experience every day.