April 3, 2018 / 1:55 AM / 5 months ago

Venezuela opposition candidate's aide hit, suffers 'severe' head injury

CARACAS (Reuters) - The security boss of Venezuela opposition presidential candidate Henri Falcon was attacked during a campaign event and is being treated for a “severe” head injury, the campaign team said on Monday, and it blamed the leftist government for the incident.

Teodoro Campos, opposition lawmaker and security chief of Venezuelan presidential candidate Henri Falcon, receives help after sustaining injury during a rally with Falcon, in Caracas, Venezuela April 2, 2018. REUTERS/Rayner Pena

Teodoro Campos, also a lawmaker, was beaten up in the neighborhood of Catia by pro-government thugs when he tried to stop them from stealing camera equipment from journalists, Falcon said. Images circulating on social media showed Campos, his head dripping with blood, being hauled away to a hospital.

Venezuelan presidential candidate Henri Falcon waves during a campaign event at the slum of Catia in Caracas, Venezuela April 2, 2018. REUTERS/Rayner Pena

“Presumably this was done with a brass knuckle,” Falcon said at a news conference.

He said President Nicolas Maduro’s government, faced with widespread discontent over hyperinflation and food shortages, was resorting to violence to intimidate its adversaries.

“We must put a stop to these violent circumstances in which the government, instead of solving Venezuelans’ real problems, looks to silence them by deploying its armed groups,” Falcon said, calling on Maduro to “control” his violent followers.

Venezuelan presidential candidate Henri Falcon speaks with people during a campaign event at the slum of Catia in Caracas, Venezuela April 2, 2018. REUTERS/Rayner Pena

Reuters was not able to verify Falcon’s statement. Venezuela’s Information Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Falcon is hoping to beat Maduro in a May election that the rest of the opposition is boycotting because it says the electoral process is stacked against it, with two top opposition candidates barred from office.

Many opposition members are suspicious of Falcon, once a member of the ruling socialists, and are planning to abstain from voting on May 20.

But the 56-year-old former soldier vowed to plow on. “None of this will stop us,” Falcon said.

Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer and Deisy Buitrago; Editing by Girish Gupta and Leslie Adler

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