Venezuelan security forces are punishing its citizens with physical exercise if they’re caught violating coronavirus restrictions. Some are even made to sit under the sun, some physically assaulted.
A man who was heading to buy flour with his children in Caracas lowered his facemask to wipe sweat from his face was made to sit under the sun by the roadside.
Local rights groups said the government were punishing citizens for not queuing correctly for groceries.
A viral video on Twitter showed a soldier in western Tachira state ordering three young men to do pushups while saying “I should not be in the street.”
Autoridades del Municipio Guásimos en el estado #Tachira cuyo Alcalde es Evaristo Zambrano difunden por las redes este video donde se obliga a jóvenes a realizar forzosamente ejercicios por presuntamente no cumplir con normas preventivas #Coronavirus pic.twitter.com/jt7mbIjbwd
— PROVEA (@_Provea) July 31, 2020
In some cases, security forces have used violence as a form of discipline. On July 22, three men being hit on their legs with a baseball bat for breaking coronavirus measures.
The punishments, opposition lawmakers and rights groups say President Nicolas Maduro has militarized his government’s response to the pandemic, deploying forces widely accused of human rights violations including torture, extrajudicial killings and extortion.
Maduro has publicly thanked the military for “doing battle” with COVID-19.
Since March, security forces have set up checkpoints across the country to limit people’s movement and enforce mask use. Police units also patrol through cities to ensure residents comply with curfews.
So far Venezuela has confirmed 23,280 cases and 202 deaths, though medical bodies warn that testing is insufficient and numbers may be far higher.