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

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video US Landmark Pushes Endangered Species

People gathered in streets, on rooftops in Manhattan to see image highlights that covered 33 floors of Empire State Building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system 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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Outlook Mixed After TPP Talks End

No deal was reached at what was intended to be the concluding round last week in Hawaii; Elections are approaching in Canada, US
More

Mexican Journalists Protest After Colleague's Killing

Activists say 34 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 1992, making it the 10th deadliest country for reporters
More

Canada’ Harper Dissolves Parliament, Calls Early Poll

Prime Minister, his Conservative party are seeking fourth term in office after nearly decade in power; election set for October 19
More

Mexican Journalist Found Dead After Receiving Threats

Ruben Espinosa worked for investigative magazine 'Proceso,' which said his sister identified his body Saturday
More

Looting in Venezuelan Market Leaves One Dead, Dozens Hurt

Violence ensues after shoppers seeking scarce consumer staples break into a supermarket warehouse in Ciudad Guayana
More

Bomb Hurled at Former Brazilian President Lula's Foundation

Institute, located in downtown Sao Paulo, says no one was hurt in Thursday night explosion that damaged a garage entrance, calling blast a 'political attack'
More