Crafty Venezuelans Use Fecal Bombs and Bottle Masks Against Maduro
Venezuelans from all walks of life are using homemade shields, gas masks and fecal bombs to try to force new elections.
A Venezuelan opposition activist wearing a homemade gas mask takes cover behind a makeshift shield as clashes erupt with riot police during a protest against President Nicolas Maduro on May 8, 2017 in Caracas.
In a country where finding even a Tylenol can be a weekslong ordeal, protesters are employing every scrap of material they can find as makeshift weaponry to protect themselves while confronting police and national guardsmen who fire tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse marchers. Protesters are vowing to remain on the streets even as the death toll mounts after six weeks of unrest.
Opposition activists and riot police clash during a protest against Maduro on May 8.
At least 38 people have been killed and hundreds injured in protests that erupted after the Supreme Court issued a ruling March 29 nullifying the opposition-controlled National Assembly, a decision it later reversed amid a storm of international criticism and outrage among Venezuelans. Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets to castigate Maduro's administration, which they claim has become a dictatorship responsible for triple-digit inflation, skyrocketing crime and crippling food shortages.
Opposition activists are hit by the jet of a riot police water cannon during a protest on May 10.
The government's response to the demonstrations has drawn international condemnation, with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressing concern in April that Maduro is "not allowing the opposition to have their voices heard."
Protesters walk on a blocked highway during a national sit-in on May 15.
Drawing rail-thin teenagers, elderly grandmothers and all ages in between, Venezuela's protests have taken on an almost ritual-like progression: Demonstrators begin marching toward their chosen destination and are blocked by police or national guardsmen in armored trucks launching plumes of tear gas.
Demonstrators take part in an anti-government protest against Maduro on May 8.
Maduro blames the opposition for the violence, claiming its leaders are instigating the unrest and working with gangs to remove him from power. At least two law enforcement officers have been killed in the demonstrations.
Venezuelan opposition activists protest against the government of Maduro on May 15.
Protesters use a giant sling shot to throw a "poopootov", a bottle filled with feces, during a rally against Maduro on May 10.
Maduro's government has equated the use of feces-filled bombs to biochemical weapons that could spread illnesses. Protesters write messages like "For the political prisoners!" and "Sent with love" on the containers.
"The use of a biochemical weapon is a crime," said Marielys Valdez, general inspector for the courts. "And it carries a high penalty."
Anti-government protesters using handmade shields face off with security forces blocking a student march from reaching the Education Ministry on May 8.
A protester wearing goggles and equipped with a piece of metal to serve as a shield, walks past a public transportation bus that spontaneously caught fire when the driver tried to restart the bus on May 13.
Opposition supporters clash with riot police while rallying against Maduro on May 10.
A demonstrator takes cover behind a makeshift shield during a march against Maduro on May 10.
A protester wears a home-made gas mask during a blockade on May 15. Protesters are using plastic soda bottles to make gas masks outfitted with homemade cotton and carbon filters.
An opposition supporter shows a sling shot built to resemble a gun on May 15.
Members of the Bolivarian National Guard shield themselves from a jar of fecal matter thrown at them by anti-government protesters on May 10. Opponents of Maduro threw glass jars filled with fecal matter at security forces blocking them from marching to the Supreme Court to protest its decision to gut the opposition-controlled congress of its powers.
Protesters clash with military police at an air base on May 8.
A protester wears swimming goggles to protect their eyes from stinging tear gas during a rally on May 8.
Opposition activists and riot police face off during an anti-government protest against Maduro on May 8.
A woman protects herself with a helmet, sunglasses, and a plastic bottle stuffed with cotton balls during a protest on May 8 in Caracas.