A Venezuelan national guard armored vehicle careened into a crowd of anti-government demonstrators in Caracas on a day of furious protests that left more than 300 people injured.
The newspaper El Nacional published videos Wednesday showing the vehicle backing up as a gasoline bomb burst on its windshield. Crowds raced toward the vehicle and then suddenly fled as it advanced, and masked soldiers battled protesters in a chaotic melee. Rocks, bottles, shots and tear gas filled the air. One person was confirmed dead in Caracas.
Injuries throughout the city included 134 traumas and 17 cases of people overcome by gas, Mayor Ramon Muchacho of the opposition-dominated Chacao municipality said in a post on his Twitter account. Those hurt included lawmakers Freddy Guevara and Julio Montoya. The opposition coalition, known as MUD, said in a statement that more than 300 people were injured in today’s clashes.
The South American nation has been riven by protests for weeks, and President Nicolas Maduro has called for a popular assembly to write a new constitution, a fresh attempt to consolidate control. Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets to protest what they say is a plummet into autocracy. Protests over the past month have resulted in at least 30 deaths, and opposition politicians have vowed to continue street actions.
In a video that went viral on social media Wednesday, Maduro was shown dancing on state television. The camera pans out a window to show National Guard troops firing tear gas at protesters in eastern Caracas.
“Maduro is so disconnected and divorced from the country’s reality that he was having a good time dancing while he ordered Venezuelans murdered,” the opposition coalition said in a posting on its Twitter account announcing a march on Thursday at 10 a.m. by the country’s student movement.