News / Americas

Venezuela Raids Opposition Party Office, Expels 3 US Diplomats

This video grab from a security camera shows the moment where armed police break in to Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) headquarters in Caracas, Feb. 17, 2014.  Videos sent to media by Popular Will, which could not be independently identified, showed men  entering the premises waving guns and trying to kick down a door.
This video grab from a security camera shows the moment where armed police break in to Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) headquarters in Caracas, Feb. 17, 2014. Videos sent to media by Popular Will, which could not be independently identified, showed men entering the premises waving guns and trying to kick down a door.
Reuters
Venezuelan security forces raided the headquarters of an opposition party accused of fomenting nearly a week of violent protests, witnesses said, as the country expelled three U.S. diplomats on charges of conspiring with demonstrators.
 
Presumed military intelligence officers burst into the opposition Popular Will party office and attempted to forcibly remove several activists after throwing tear gas inside, according to party officials.
 
“The intelligence officers arrived and began to harass us,” said party activist Adriangela Ruiz. “They threw tear gas, took computers and tried to take away several people.”
 
FILE - Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez speaks during an interview in Caracas, Feb. 11, 2014.FILE - Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez speaks during an interview in Caracas, Feb. 11, 2014.
x
FILE - Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez speaks during an interview in Caracas, Feb. 11, 2014.
FILE - Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez speaks during an interview in Caracas, Feb. 11, 2014.
​The government has issued an arrest warrant for Popular Will's founder, Leopoldo Lopez, 42, the U.S.-educated opposition leader accused of murder and terrorism in relation to the violent demonstrations of the past week.
 
He has been the main instigator of the demonstrations that have energized Venezuela's opposition, but show few immediate signs they will achieve their goal of ending the government of socialist President Nicolas Maduro.
 
Student protesters have taken his lead and are now promising to continue demonstrating around the country.
 
Videos sent to the media by Popular Will, which could not be independently identified, showed men entering the party's premises, waving guns and kicking down a door.
 
Students protesting outside the building then prevented the gunmen from taking anyone away, a party worker said.
 
Two government officials contacted by Reuters said they had no information about the incident and also did not have any way of making authorized spokespeople available.
 
The Caracas protests have been limited to mostly upscale areas, with little evidence so far that Venezuelans will join the demonstrations en masse across the country of 29 million people. Even so, thousands were out in the streets again on Monday.
 
Lopez, whose whereabouts were unknown, promised via an online video to hand himself in on Tuesday and called on supporters to march with him to the Interior Ministry.
 
“Let's all go dressed in white to one place. Then I will walk alone. I will not put any Venezuelan's life at risk,” he tweeted on Monday.
 
Personae Non Gratae
 
After several days of blaming the violence on meddling by Washington, the Venezuelan government declared three U.S. diplomats personae non gratae, giving them 48 hours to leave the country on charges they were recruiting college students for the protests.
 
“They have been visiting universities with the pretext of granting visas,” said Foreign Minister Elias Jaua, who often faced off against the police during his own days as a student demonstrator.
 
“But that is a cover for making contacts with [student] leaders to offer them training and financing to create youth groups that generate violence,” he told reporters.
 
The U.S. State Department called the allegations “baseless and false,” adding that Washington supported free expression and peaceful assembly in Venezuela and in countries around the world.
 
Venezuela has routinely expelled U.S. diplomats in recent years as the relationship between the two countries frayed during the 14-year rule of the late socialist firebrand, Hugo Chavez.
 
Critics dismiss such moves as theatrics used in times of national commotion to distract from more serious issues.
 
Venezuela's highly traded global bonds, which fluctuate sharply on civil unrest or political tension, remained near 18-month lows, though trading in U.S. markets was generally light due to the Presidents Day holiday.
 
Bank of America said in a research note to clients on Monday that the protests were unlikely to result in a change of government, recommending that investors take advantage of attractive yields on bonds that mature in coming years.
 
Violence on Both Sides
 
Complaints about acts of violence by both sides have piled up over six consecutive days of confrontations between police and demonstrators. Only 13 students were still reportedly detained after nearly 100 arrests in the past week.
 
An opposition supporter holds a national flag as she shouts at the riot police during a protest against President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, Feb. 17, 2014.An opposition supporter holds a national flag as she shouts at the riot police during a protest against President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, Feb. 17, 2014.
x
An opposition supporter holds a national flag as she shouts at the riot police during a protest against President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, Feb. 17, 2014.
An opposition supporter holds a national flag as she shouts at the riot police during a protest against President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, Feb. 17, 2014.
Opposition activists say some of the detained students have been tortured, while videos and photos circulating online show uniformed men firing on protesters. Maduro insists police have been restrained in the face of provocation and attacks.
 
The reporters' trade union said 11 journalists have been arrested, some of whom were beaten and had their equipment stolen while covering the unrest.
 
Venezuelan photographer Gabriel Osorio said that on Saturday troops hit him in the head with a pistol, shot him with rubber bullets and broke one of his ribs.
 
“I was working. I wasn't throwing rocks,” Osorio told a local newspaper. “I yelled: 'I'm with the press,' but that actually seemed to be what triggered their attack.”
 
Government leaders have denounced violence by demonstrators linked to opposition marches, including vandalizing buildings and burning of trash along city avenues.
 
Hooded protesters have gathered outside the headquarters of state TV channel VTV for the past few nights, lighting fires in the streets and hurling stones and Molotov cocktails.
 
“If anyone thinks they're going to halt the activities of [state TV], they're sorely mistaken,” said the channel's president, Yuri Pimentel.

You May Like

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: matt gardner from: sunnyvale ca
February 17, 2014 7:31 PM
I think it quite possible that the US govt. Is sending in agents to finance & stir up trouble. If you read William Blum's book. "Rogue State", he quotes several examplesnof the US govt doing this. Will Blum once worked for the State Dept.

In Response

by: Art
February 17, 2014 11:56 PM
I do not think the US has to stir up trouble, Maduro and his goons have done well enough. Venezuela has no alternative but to face the changes that have long been coming. The voice of these young people is being delivered regardless of the attempt by the ruling party to silence them. They will force change, they will win!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Hurricane Cristobal Kills Four, Moves Toward Bermuda

Storm is not expected to threaten US, but could cause deadly surf and rip currents from Florida to North Carolina
More

Peru's Congress Narrowly OKs Humala's New Cabinet on 3rd Vote

Lawmakers ratify president's embattled cabinet after ruling party offers to suspend rule requiring independent workers to pay into a pension program
More

Brazil's Deadly Prison Riot Ends

Officials say two inmates were beheaded during the Cascavel riot; two others were thrown to their deaths from the roof, and police are investigating how a fifth inmate died
More

Amid Slowdown, Chileans Adjust to New Economic Reality

Most economists now predict overall growth in country's economy of between 2.0 and 2.5 percent this year, down from 4.1 percent in 2013
More

Video Yiddish Tango Reflects Jewish Life in Argentina

Jewish people from Europe, Russia who have emigrated to Argentina for hundreds of years have fused klezmer and Argentine tango, creating Yiddish tango
More

Magnitude 6.9 Earthquake Hits Peru

Peru's civil defense institute said there were no immediate reports of injuries or serious damage
More