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AQ Slideshow: Venezuela's Colectivos

View an exclusive slideshow of Venezuela's colectivos, who say they are the government’s last line of defense.

Caracas has been the scenario of violent clashes between Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s government forces and opposition groups, led mainly by opposition politician Leopoldo López, since February 12.

So far, the conflict has left at least 41 people dead, and armed chavista groups—nicknamed “colectivos”—have been blamed for many of the casualties.

However, members of the colectivos have something else to say: they are the government’s last line of defense and they haven’t used any violence against protestors.

Top colectivo commanders across Venezuela have said that they will only draw their weapons if the socialist revolution that the late President Hugo Chávez started in 1999 is put in peril—an unacceptable compromise for opposition leaders like López or Henrique Capriles.

As both sides continue to hurl accusations at each other, polarization keeps growing and positions radicalize: a situation that foretells an uncertain future for Venezuela.

View the slideshow below.



Click here to view an expanded version of the slideshow.

All photos courtesy of the author. Follow him on Instagram at @ramoniriarte and on Twitter at @IriartePhoto.

Any opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its publishers.
Tags: Venezuela, colectivos, Nicolás Maduro, chavismo