Reports from Sky News Chief Correspondent in Caracas Stuart Ramsay are stunning. Facts delivered in typical British dispassion document that civil war has begun in Venezuela.
Over 100 people have died and many more are missing. Brutal police tactics and extreme military action has only increased the determination and number of protesters. International condemnation of the government’s plans to create a one-party dictatorship have been ignored – war is on.
Protesters tell Sky News that Venezuela is heading for civil war and they have been building the barricades across Venezuela for days now. As a motorway through the capitol, Caracas, is shut down by masked men with petrol bombs, tempers flare. People realise they won’t be able to cross town anymore.
As motorcycle drivers remonstrate with the anti-government protesters, one of them, wearing a gorilla mask, smashes a Molotov cocktail beside them and next to me.
The flame licks into the air around us. It sort of calms things down. The protest against the government has been going on for months but it is certainly growing now.
Across the capitol fires burn as demonstrators prepare for more confrontation with the government over its plan to re-write the constitution by electing a powerful new Constituent Assembly on Sunday.
It doesn’t matter where one goes or who you speak to; the young and old, the armed and unarmed, they are all resolute that change must come. Without it, they say, even more violence is inevitable.
Carrying an axe, “Monster” as he called himself, or “Axe Man” if I preferred, told me through choking acrid smoke from a burning tyre what he thought would follow if the government pushed through its controversial plans.
“It’s going to be a civil war. He wants to steal every kind of rights we have. For sure, there would be no other choice,” he said, adding that he was called “Axe Man” because he was good at cutting down trees for the barricade.
Hordes of protesters wage running battles with ranks of the country’s National Guard.
Much of Caracas has been brought to a standstill by the barricades and the confrontations with the government’s armed forces and militia groups.
The only way we could get around and through the barricades was on motorbikes; criss-crossing the capitol for the past few days it was soon clear that this is a city and indeed a country in utter turmoil. I was here a year ago. It is certainly far worse.
The anti-government movement involves people from all walks of life, including its pin-up girl, Caterina Ciarcelluti.
She is a 44-year-old fitness trainer now known as ‘Wonder Woman’, after pictures of her in Daisy Duke shorts and a skimpy t-shirt with the Venezuelan flag draped over her shoulders chucking stones at the security forces made front pages around the world.
We joined Ms Ciarcelluti on the barricades.
“All of us are dissatisfied with the government, with the way they are doing things,” she told me surrounded by masked men.
“The country wants a change and that change means that they cannot be in power anymore. Venezuela can’t stand this government any longer.”