One Video, No Words

After 106 days of punishing protests we thought the nation's capacity for shock at the regime's brutality was exhausted. Then a video proved us wrong.

The video is shaky, low quality. You can tell it’s taken from a distant window, on a cell phone. We see a thin, bald man wearing a sleeveless shirt walking through what seems to be a parking lot carrying a small back pack. He’s not throwing rocks or molotov cocktails, his face is not covered by a hood, either. Actually, he doesn’t even seem to be protesting. He just walks by, seemingly unaware of the events around him.

Suddenly, a group of police bikes surround him. Officers wearing riot gear jump off and immediately lay into him for no apparent reason. More bikes come and, within seconds, he’s being brutally beaten by at least ten officers. They use all they’ve got against him, from punches and kicks, to the butt of their shotguns and the transparent shields behind which they hide from the contempt of an entire country. The man tries to fight back, to protect himself somehow, but their numbers overwhelm him. After two terrible minutes, the officers take his backpack and shove him onto one of the bikes. The video ends.

You can see the whole thing here, if you can stomach it.

His name is Gyanny Scovino. He lives in Lechería, in Anzoátegui State: some 300 km east of Caracas. Local activists say he has Asperger Syndrome, a mild form of autism. The video of his brutal attack went viral on Venezuelan social media: an instant encapsulation of the current protest cycle, marked by unprovoked attacks faced with stunning resilience.

Scovino was taken to the National Guard’s Seventh Regional Command in nearby Puerto La Cruz, treated and eventually received surgery at a local health center, to treat unspecified lesions in his abdomen.

According to local Voluntad Popular activist, Irene Arveláez, his condition is currently stable but under custody and awaiting Court Martial. Yes, court martial. The charges he’ll face remain a mystery.

We’ve seen a lot of hard-to-watch videos come out of the current protest cycle. But none has punched the opposition as hard in its collective gut as Scovino’s. It seems to sum up the past three and a half months, to crystallize our reasons for protesting.