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

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor 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.
Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisisi
X
March 06, 2015 12:28 AM
There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Winter Weather Strikes Eastern US...Again!

A new wintry blast has hit more than 20 states in the U.S. Midwest and Mid-Atlantic region, adding more snow to the piles from previous storms. Tired of shoveling snow, breaking the ice and dealing with accidents, flight delays and property damage, most Americans hope this is the last bout of cold for the season. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Myanmar's Traditional Fashion Choices Endure

The sartorial choices of Myanmar’s men and women quickly catch the eye of any visitor to the tropical Southeast Asian country. But at a time when Myanmar’s political and economic opening is bringing affordable western fashions to the masses, will the country’s unique fashion trends endure? VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Yangon explores that question.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

More Americas News

ExxonMobil Set to Begin Drilling Off Guyana

Project could turn up the heat under a long-running territorial row with neighboring Venezuela
More

Peru Indigenous Groups Settle US Court Claims with Occidental

Achuar communities alleged Occidental spilled oil and dumped toxic waste while operating country's biggest oil block, triggering widespread health problems
More

Petrobras Scandal Threatens Brazil's Political, Business Elite

Executives reportedly feeling inclined to cut plea bargains that would result in less jail time in return for disclosing graft scheme details
More

Tests Indicate Argentine Prosecutor Was Slain, Ex-Wife Says

Alberto Nisman, found dead days after accusing president of involvement in cover-up, didn't commit suicide, Sandra Arroyo Salgado says
More

Canadian Pastor Detained in North Korea

Hyeon Soo Lim arrived in North Korea in late January, went to Pyongyang on a humanitarian mission and hasn't been heard from since
More

Colombia Generals Join Rebel Leaders for Peace Talks

Colombia's President Santos long resisted FARC calls for bilateral ceasefire, but since his re-election last year, he has injected urgency into negotiations
More