The United States Government said on Tuesday that arming hundreds of thousands of civilians in Venezuela “will lead to disaster,” after Nicolas Maduro’s executive had approved the expansion of the Bolivarian Militia to 500,000 armed civilians.

“You have to send a message of non-violence and responsibility,” said a senior official at the US State Department
MIGUEL GUTIERREZ / EPA

The United States Government said on Tuesday that arming hundreds of thousands of civilians in Venezuela “will lead to disaster,” after Nicol├ís Maduro’s executive had approved the expansion of the Bolivarian Militia to 500,000 armed civilians.

“You have to send a message of nonviolence and responsibility,” a senior official from the US State Department told a conference call with journalists on the protests called for this Wednesday in Venezuela.

“The army, the police and the rest of the Armed Forces must comply with the Constitution and international laws and guarantee the rights of citizens who manifest themselves,” said the same source in reference to the repression by security agents that was denounced in the last Weeks.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner later said that “those responsible for criminal repression … will be required to take individual responsibility for their actions” to the international community and the “Venezuelan people and their institutions.”

Regarding allegations of arbitrary detention and torture, the top State Department official called for “a full, fair and transparent investigation into the events.”

Still, the same source urged citizens to go out and express their concerns, but asked that they do so “in a non-violent way.”

Asked if the US government would be willing to impose sanctions against Venezuela, the official said that these actions “would affect the vast majority of Venezuelans,” who already suffer from shortages of food supplies and medicines, among other things.

The opposition called protests against Maduro to this Wednesday, throughout the country and even abroad, coinciding with the commemoration of the beginning of the struggle for independence of Venezuela from Spain on April 19, 1810. The Government of Maduro also called demonstrations Parallel to the morning.

On Monday, Maduro announced that he had approved a plan to expand to 500,000 members of the Bolivarian Militia who, armed with shotguns, were deployed throughout the country.

The Bolivarian Militia is a civilian militia corps created by former President Hugo Chavez in 2009 to serve as a complement to the Bolivarian National Armed Forces.

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