Photo Credit: Demonstrators run away from tear gas during a protest in Caracas. Jorge Silva / Reuters

The dead and wounded in Venezuela during yesterday's demonstrations reflect everyone's worst fears: that deepening polarization in the midst of the country's escalating problems would erupt into political violence.  There's some evidence that anti-government protestors were engaged in rock-throwing and other non-peaceful means.  But the rapid escalation into lethal force appears to be a logical consequence of the government's policy of arming civilian militias to 'defend the revolution.'  This is vigilantism, pure and simple.  It's an extremely dangerous development--not the first time, for sure, that pro-government thugs have attacked members of the opposition--but an ominous portent of where things might go as the economic and security situations continue to deteriorate.