Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says opposition protesters set a government supporter on fire and stabbed him during a recent rally.
“A person was set on fire, beaten up, stabbed… They nearly lynched him, just because he shouted out that he was a ‘Chavista,’” Maduro said, using the word that refers to the supporters of Chavism, the ruling socialist movement set up by Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez.
Maduro said immolating a person was what Daesh terrorists do in the Middle East.
He said the protesters beat the man “and nearly lynched him, just because someone shouted out that he was a ‘Chavista,’ or because someone else shouted out that he was robbing them, or because of his skin color, or because they got the idea to set him on fire.”
Eyewitnesses to the incident, which occurred on Saturday afternoon, said the man set on fire had been accused of theft by the protesters.
Though some in the crowd said he should die, others helped him by putting out the flames. He has survived with burns to 80 percent of his body.
“Is that what we call opposition? Is that what we call democracy? We call this politics? How far will these people take it?” the embattled Venezuelan president asked.
The president accused the opposition of ultra-violence. “He’s not the first they’ve lit on fire. He’s not the first they’ve killed.”
Maduro then slammed what he said was a US-led conspiracy to “take control of the political power in Venezuela and recolonize” the country.
Also on Saturday, an opposition activist was shot dead.
“[Edy Alejandro] Teran Aguilar received a bullet in the chest,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement on Sunday, adding that 18-year-old male and a 50-year-old woman were also injured.
The deaths brought the total number of those killed in recent unrest to at least 48.