The fight against President Nicolas Maduro's government is getting increasingly dirty as protesters fling bottles and bags of human excrement at riot police officers in Caracas. The latest weapon in the fight for democracy in Venezuela is the "Poopootov cocktail" – a play on the Molotov cocktail.
Soldiers and riot police fired tear gas and water cannons as thousands of opposition supporters blocked the main highway through Caracas on Wednesday (10 May) in what was dubbed the "Sh*t March". "They have gas; we have excrement," reads an image floating around social media to advertise the demonstration.
Messages have been going viral on Venezuelan WhatsApp groups giving step-by-step instructions and advice on putting together the Poopootov cocktails. Some insist on avoiding glass containers to ensure that the projectiles only humiliate troops rather than injure them.
Some opposition sympathisers are appalled at the use of faeces, both animal and human, calling it an unsanitary and inappropriate tactic even in the face of a government they despise. Many note that throwing faeces could increase cases of infectious diseases which are soaring due to the lack of medicine as well as basic cleaning materials such as soaps and disinfectant.
The government accused the opposition of breaking international treaties on biological and chemical weapons by throwing faeces.
While some demonstrators are protesting peacefully, others are getting increasingly tooled-up, throwing rocks, petrol bombs and fireworks at security forces.
At least 39 people have died in the unrest since early April, including protesters, government sympathisers, bystanders, and security forces. Hundreds have also been hurt and arrested. Maduro claims foes are seeking a coup with US encouragement.
The state prosecutor's office said 27-year-old Miguel Castillo was killed during Wednesday's protests in Caracas, without giving details. Motorbike taxi driver Anderson Dugarte, 32, died on Wednesday in the Andean city of Merida after being injured in a protest. Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said in comments broadcast by state television that Dugarte was killed by a sniper linked to the opposition's Democratic Unity coalition. He said Castillo was killed by a firearm.
The opposition, which enjoys majority support after years in the shadow of the ruling Socialist Party, says authorities are denying a solution to Venezuela's crisis by thwarting a referendum, delaying local elections and refusing to bring forward the 2018 presidential vote.
With inflation in the high triple-digits, shortages of the most basic medicines, and millions suffering food scarcity, the country is undergoing a major crisis.