In Bizarre Video, Venezuela's President Threatens Protesters While Playing Catch
After days of deadly riots, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro tweeted a video of himself tossing around a baseball, and warning his political opponents that "justice will come."
At least 12 people were killed in Venezuela this week, amid growing protests and riots against the socialist government of President Nicholas Maduro.
Overall, anti-government protests have resulted in 20 deaths in recent weeks, according to the Associated Press, plunging the country into political chaos.
Anger toward Maduro's government has been growing, as Venezuela grapples with triple-digit inflation and food shortages. But tensions boiled over last month, when the country's Supreme Court stripped the legislature of its powers.
The court reversed the decision after an international backlash, but hostility toward Maduro's government has not subsided. Deadly protests have pitted violent protesters agains the country's armed forces, culminating in two days of massive riots last week.
Then, as thousands took to the streets Saturday night to honor those who've died in the protests, Maduro tweeted a bizarre video, addressing the country while playing catch in a pristine park.
"We're here warming up, warming up for good games and good surprises that are coming," Maduro says in the video. "Later, don't say I didn't tell you. We're getting ready."
The video was a surreal contrast to the scenes playing out elsewhere in the country, with Maduro playfully tossing the ball with a Venezuelan lawmaker even as thousands of opposition protesters crowded the streets to demand new elections.
In the clip, Maduro is, at times, playful. But he also appears to be issuing a dire warning to protesters who oppose his government, calling them, "mercenary groups hired to create chaos" and to "practice terrorism."
"In Venezuela there is peace, and peace will continue," he says. "To the violent groups, your justice will come."
"Look, we're ready for a new game that's coming, and what's coming is a fastball at 110 miles per hour," Maduro says as he winds up for a throw. "STRIKE!"
Needless to say, the video didn't sit well with plenty of Venezuelans and others on Twitter, who criticized Maduro for playing ball while his country is in disarray.