Venezuela approves use of force against protesters

Venezuelan military authorities on Jan. 30 issued new regulations allowing soldiers to use deadly force against demonstrators if they feel that their lives are at risk. Defense Ministry chief Vladimir Padrino in announcing the new regs, known as Resolution 8610, recalled last year's unrest, which left 43 people dead, including members of the security forces. The Venezuelan ombudsman, Tarek Williams Saab of the Defensor del Pueblo, said the regulations are "clear on the progressive and differentiated use of force," and will "protect the human rights and guarantees of demonstrators." Marcela Maspero of the National Workers Union (UNETE), usually an ally of the ruling party, said the regulations pose "a direct threat to the working class," asserting: "It is the workers who have been the main participants in the social protests in the country in the last few years." (BBC News, TeleSUR, TeleSUR, Jan. 30)