Rubio Delivers Floor Speech On Crisis In Venezuela (emphasis added)
In fact, it is now known that the Interior Ministry of Venezuela authorized snipers to travel to Táchira state and fire on demonstrators. Here is a picture of a government official, of a law enforcement or army or National Guard individual, or Interior Ministry individual, on a rooftop with a rifle and a scope aiming into a crowd. Here is a picture of a sniper. It doesn’t end there. Those aren’t the only pictures we have. Here are more pictures of more snipers on rooftops. Here is another sniper aiming into the crowd, with a spotter next to them. Here is another picture of the same sniper blown up.
These are government-sponsored individuals. What civilized [country] on Earth sends the National Guard and the Interior Ministry of their own government, of their own country, with snipers to fire on their own people who are demonstrating because of the lack of freedoms and opportunity and economic degradation that exists in a country? They cannot deny this. Here are pictures taken by demonstrators themselves of the snipers ready to shoot down people. In fact, 36 people have lost their lives.
But it doesn’t end just with the government snipers. Because what the government is trying to do here to hide their involvement is they have organized these pro-government militia groups, basically, these militant groups that they hide behind. These groups don’t wear uniforms. They’re called ‘colectivos.’ They drive around the city in motorcycles, and they assault protesters, they break in and vandalize their homes, they have weapons that they use to shoot into the crowds and kill or harm people.
There are three main groups. By the way, these groups began under Hugo Chavez’s reign, and these groups are actually organized around a concept that has existed for years in Cuba — these committees to defend the Revolution. These are neighborhood groups, so they know your family, they know who you are, they’re always watching, and they organize themselves into armed militias. The government’s claim is, ‘Well, these groups are on their own, we’re not coordinating with them,’ but in fact, there have been multiple reports that these groups coordinate with the National Guard to take down barricades set up by protesters, to break into the homes of protesters, to vandalize homes, to terrorize people, and to kill.
There are three main groups that I want to point out, these ‘colectivos.’ La Piedrita is one of them, it’s based in a working class neighborhood of Caracas. It has a far-left ideology, it is armed, it is comprised of radicals, who claim to be willing to die for their revolutionary ideals, whatever those are. In January, this group, by the way, tweeted that Henrique Capriles, the opposition party’s nominee for president in the last elections, is a racist and a fascist and accused him of intending to launch attacks on the poor and on impoverished neighborhoods.
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