Venezuelan opposition protesters on Wednesday marched to the office of the country’s National Electoral Council (CNE) to deliver a petition demanding that the process for a recall referendum against beleaguered President Nicholás Maduro be expedited. In a tense face-off, supporters of the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), a coalition of parties opposed to the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), were prevented from entering the premises by state security personnel, prompting the recall effort’s chief proponent and former opposition presidential candidate, Henrique Caprilles, to declare that Maduro “is using force in the belief that it is going to stop us.” The high-profile tactic, which as usual has attracted frenzied attention in the Western press, is so far the clearest example of what Reuters has described as the opposition’s new “multi-pronged approach” to removing Maduro from office.
It’s not that the kinds of violent extra-democratic methods such as those utilized by the ultra-right elements of the opposition during the 2014 street protests have given way to entirely peaceful and legal means, however. On the very same day as the CNE march, a video emerged of opposition extremists attacking public property and police officers in Caracas, including dousing two with gasoline. This follows a wave of violent anti-government mobilizations across the country on Monday. According to one report, in the Tachira state “hooded militants hijacked a truck belonging to the Venezuelan state telecommunications company CANTV, subdued the driver, and set the vehicle on fire.” As Ryan Mallet-Outtrim pointed out in Venezuela Analysis last month: “Today’s right-wing has repeatedly shown it not only has no interest in disavowing violence, but is willing to turn on the Venezuelan people for their own political gain.”