Last night, Venezuela saw some of the worst spasms of violence the country has ever experienced.
Despite this, information has been scarce in the international media – not least because of an almost complete media black-out in the country’s main cities. However, where traditional means have failed, social media has provided the basis for the footage to be shared first hand.
Caracas, Valencia and San Cristobal have become virtual war zones with state-sponsored paramilitary groups known as colectivos riding motorcycles through middle-class neighbourhoods and shooting tear-gas canisters into residential apartment buildings. There have even been videos purporting to show military personnel shooting civilians dead in the streets of Caracas.
Much of the information making it’s way out of Venezuela has come from social media sites like YouTube and Twitter and the civilian video-footage coming out of the cities and towns makes for shocking viewing.
As the footage made its way across the world last night, President Maduro appeared on live television and radio station cadena saying: “I can give you guarantees that what those colectivos are doing is working, producing.”
Meanwhile, some of the live twitter commentary made for harrowing reading. JGpunto wrote, while hiding from police and military collectives in a residential building in Altamira: “They found us.”
His next tweets are a mayhem of beatings and vicious attacks.
Reports from Caracas have claimed that the municipal police is currently working to help students evacuate from the area and protect them from national security forces.
Those media outlets who have covered the violence in Venezuela have already faced the threat of expulsion with President Maduro threatening to remove CNN from the country over its reporting of the protests. Mr Maduro said he would take action if the American news network did not “rectify its coverage”.
Despite this, social media has played an ever-increasing part in highlighting the abuses of the Venezuelan government and sharing the protesters’ message to sympathetic onlookers from all corners of the globe.
In spite of Mr Maduro’s best efforts, footage will continue to make its way around the world.