Security forces confronted antigovernment protesters in Caracas in April. CreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times

CARACAS, Venezuela — In scenes across Venezuela, the security forces emerge as villains in dark uniforms. A young demonstrator approaches the military with outstretched arms, witnesses said, only to be shot dead moments later.

In one video, a National Guard armored vehicle runs over protesters. In another, a man shrouded in tear gas falls into convulsionsbefore soldiers toss him on the back of a motorcycle.

But behind their shields and batons, many police officers are enduring the same economic turmoil — and share many of the same grievances — as the protesters they are battling, testing their loyalties to the government they have been sent to defend.



Read more