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Latin America

Univision correspondent assaulted in Venezuela as political crisis deepens

The journalist was doing a live report when she was approached by ten officers from the Bolivarian National Guard who took her cell phone and beat her.
31 Mar 2017 – 12:40 PM EDT
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Univision reporter Elyangélica González was attacked in Caracas on Friday by armed members of the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) outside the Supreme Court while broadcasting live on Colombia’s Radio Caracol.

The incident was captured on video by a bystander.

González was broadcasting next to a group of students who were protesting the Supreme Court’s decision this week to take over legislative powers from the National Assembly, when a dozen National Guardsmen approached her and grabbed her cell phone.

"I heard one of the officers say 'take her phone, break the phone' and they did. They grabbed me by the hair, threw me on the ground, they beat me," she told Univision.

"I said: 'Why are you hitting me? I am a journalist and I only have a telephone,'" she added.

Minutes before her detention, the journalist had posted a photo on her Instagram account of the heavy military presence around the Supreme Court.

Wednesday's decision by Venezuela's top judicial body, controlled by judges appointed by the ruling party, to assume the powers of the opposition-controlled National Assembly has escalated the crisis in oil-rich Venezuela to a new level. Foreign governments have strongly condemned the ruling.

The head of the 34-nation Organization of International States (OAS), Luis Almagro, accused the government of President Nicolas Maduro of mounting a "coup."

This weeks' crisis was sparked by the government's need for approval from the National Assembly of oil joint ventures as it tries to lift the country out of a severe economic recession, soaring inflation and acute shortages of food and medicine.

Opposition leaders have called for protests and greater international pressure to force the government to restore democratic rule, warning that any oil deals signed by the Supreme Court will not be valid.

While some protestors took to the streets there were no mass demonstrations as happened in 2014 when more than 40 people were killed in clashes with security forces.

Reporter scratched

González spoke to reporters after she was released without being jailed. In images published on social networks scratches are visible on González's neck and arms.

In the live audio from Radio Caracol González can be heard describing the incident and defending herself when the transmission is interrupted.

A video filmed from a nearby building shows the reporter surrounded by guardsmen dragging her on the ground.

According to the journalist, she asked guards to let her cover an event announced by the Foreign Ministry to deal with the Venezuelan political crisis, but the guards seized her phone, attacked her physically and prevented her from attending the event.

"They told me 'you're detained, shut up, sit down, I’m detaining you because I feel like it,'" she told Caracol. “They’re treating a human being like an animal. Ten people were kicking me. There were ten of them around me, shouting at me, pulling my hair, one pulling my leg, the other by the arm and telling me to shut up," she said.