Right-wing protesters hurtling “poopootov cocktails” — plastic bottles filled with human feces and water to “neutralize public order” during demonstrations, are using “biological weapons” and could face criminal prosecution, say Venezuelan officials.
During an interview with the state television channel VTV Wednesday, Inpector General of Courts Marielys Valdez declared that the use of excrement in demonstrations to “neutralize public order” is considered a biochemical weapon, whose use is punishable by law.
“It is a biological weapon … The use of biochemical weapons is a crime, it is completely typified, and it carries high penalties,” she said.
“The use of these weapons, including feces, has consequences because they can affect the waters and sectors of an area,” she added. “It affects not only the person targeted, but over time it can spread and cause disease.”
“They have gas, we have excrement,” was the message that floated around social media that advertised the most recent use of the weapon, flung during Wednesday’s “La Marcha de la Mierda” — or “Shit March” — in several cities throughout Venezuela.
According to El Pais, the fetid weapon first debuted in the city of Los Teques, a few miles from Caracas, over the weekend. As the opposition called on Monday for escalated protests throughout the country this week to protest Maduro’s call for a constituent assembly, the poopootovs were also launched during demonstrations in the cities of San Cristobal, Merida, Valencia and Caracas.
On International Worker’s Day, May 1, Maduro called for the creation of a national constituent assembly with the goal of easing the ongoing political tensions and supporting dialogue with the opposition, especially as a new volley of protests intent on ousting the government began last month.
Maduro invoked article 347 of the Bolivarian Constitution, which allows for the convening of a national constituent assembly with the purpose of “transforming the state.”
That constitution, which was rewritten in 1999 by former President Hugo Chavez, is widely regarded as one of the most progressive in the world. Not only does it enshrine social rights to citizens, it also creates space for citizens to directly intervene in political decision-making outside of elections.
Despite having previously called for a constituent assembly, the opposition has rejected the call and begun a fresh wave of protests. Their right-wing leaders say that the intention of the constitutional process called by Maduro is to delay regional and municipal elections, which are slated for this year.
Still, 17 Venezuelan opposition parties met with the government this week to discuss the assembly, although right-wing parties in the opposition MUD coalition — the Democratic Unity Roundtable — are still refusing to sit with the government.
Over three dozen people have died since opposition-led protests aimed at toppling the government began in early April. While the opposition and mainstream media have pinned the blame for that violence on government and state forces, a number of public officials, police, government supporters and bystanders have been among the victims.
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