Socialist gangs in Venezuela promised to defend dictator Nicolás Maduro “with rifle in hand” on the eve of Maduro’s inauguration following an apparently fraudulent election last year.

The gangs, known as colectivos, began patrolling parts of western Caracas this week ahead of Thursday’s inauguration, shouting slogans in favor of Maduro and the country’s “Bolivarian Revolution,” wearing masks, and firing their weapons in the air.

At one point, they were reportedly heard railing against the newly appointed president of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, describing him as a “treacherous deputy.” The rally ended at the Cuartel de la Montaña, where the late socialist Hugo Chávez’s tomb is kept.

According to the group’s leader Jorge Navas, members of the opposition are “following U.S. orders to destabilize the country, overthrow Maduro and put an end to the revolution,” and therefore those that have “the balls to defend the revolution with a rifle must show their faces.” The group says its members will patrol the streets on Thursday to ensure that Maduro’s inauguration for another five-year term passes without disruption.

Caravana en defensa de la Patria y la Revolución @NicolasMaduro @Alcon_23 @FrenteSergioR @VTVcanal8 @teleSURtv

— Valentin Santana (@valentinpueblo) January 7, 2019

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