Yes, the govt has shown every intention of escalating. Barring a military revolt, protesters simply don't have the weapons to match the level of force, but some are already becoming desperate and this could very well turn into a civil war soon.
And as the other reply stated, you completely omitted the part about irregularities.
How can Maduro possibly explain this with a straight face other than to admit that currency controls and confiscation of private property for redistribution to his supporters is not the way forward to economic prosperity?
State-controlled media, which is all most people have access to, have kept pumping propaganda about how the downturn is due to an "economic war" waged by the capitalists to damage the government. Over 15 years the govt has managed to create a polarized climate where, if you disagree with the government, you're lying b/c you're a CIA shill. The poor are inclined to believe the government not just because of the 24/7 propaganda, but because they're uneducated and the government very overtly gives them minor aid (while screwing them behind their backs using mechanisms they don't understand). It's a tragedy.
If we could sell our experiences for what they cost us, we would all be millionaires. -- Abigail Van Buren