Venezuela lawmakers condemn massacre in rare show of unity
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro / AFP PHOTO / JUAN BARRETO
Venezuelan lawmakers voted unanimously Tuesday to issue a declaration condemning the massacre of 12 civilians by soldiers, a rare display of unity in a country torn by a political crisis.
President Nicolas Maduro’s allies and the opposition majority came together to “condemn the forced disappearance and killing of a number of citizens… by members of the military,” they said.
The resolution refers to a bloody security operation in October that left 12 farmers missing.
Their bodies were later found rotting in mass graves in the mountains outside the town of Barlovento, in the central state of Miranda.
Eleven soldiers were arrested for the killings.
Tuesday’s vote was just the second time Maduro’s coalition and the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) have unanimously adopted a piece of legislation since the latter won control of the National Assembly last year.
The other was an endorsement of Pope Francis’s call for dialogue on the country’s raging crisis.
Oil giant Venezuela has veered toward economic collapse as crude prices have plunged since 2014, fueling an opposition drive to oust Maduro.
The leftist leader, who accuses his opponents of conspiring with the United States to oust him, has vowed to hold onto power at least until his term ends in 2019.
Shortages of food, medicine and basic goods in Venezuela have led to riots, looting and a rise in violent crime.
Seeking to bolster security, the military launched a crime crackdown in July 2015 called People’s Liberation Operations, or OPLs.
Activists have voiced concern about rights abuses committed under the program, including the Barlovento massacre.
The military has said it “categorically rejects” the actions of the 11 soldiers arrested over the killings.
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