[News] Peaceful Marches and Opposition Violence, Two Deaths Mark Day of Youth in Venezuela

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Feb 13 12:17:21 EST 2014


  Peaceful Marches and Opposition Violence, Two Deaths Mark Day of Youth
  in Venezuela

<http://venezuelanalysis.com/printmail/10346>http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10346
<http://venezuelanalysis.com/print/10346>

By Tamara Pearson, Ryan Mallett-Outtrim


Merida, 12^th  February 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) -- Violent 
opposition groups attacked government buildings and civilians, and 
clashed with police and government supporters following peaceful marches 
commemorating the Day of Youth.

The violence has claimed two deaths and left 23 injured across the 
country. Thirty arrests have been made according to government sources.

Venezuela commemorates the day of the youth on 12 February each year in 
memory of the role of young people in the decisive independence battle 
in La Victoria in 1814. Today marked the bicentenary of the historic battle.

*Caracas*

In mid afternoon President Nicolas Maduro delivered a speech in Caracas, 
praising the morning's marches as peaceful. However, shortly later one 
Chavista was reported to have been killed amid clashes involving 
opposition activists. Juan Montoya, also known as Juancho was shot. He 
was a community leader in the Chavista stronghold, Barrio 23 de Enero. 
This afternoon National Assembly head Diosdado Cabello condemned the 
shooting, and accused armed right-wing groups of "hunting down" Montoya.

"They are fascists, murderers, and then they talk about dialogue," 
Cabello stated, referring to armed right-wing activists. The AN head 
called for calm, and urged against reprisals.

Violent opposition groups also attacked the attorney general's office in 
Carabobo Park, Caracas. Photographs of the scene indicate the building's 
exterior was damaged.

A building belonging to the government owned Fundacaracas organisation 
was also attacked by opposition groups. A few hours later the mayor of 
Caracas's Libertador municipality, the PSUV's Jorge Rodriguez also 
reported that the judicial offices in Chacao, Miranda, were also 
attacked. Later in the night the National Guard were deployed to the 
state owned VTV offices in Los Ruices. Disturbances had been reported in 
the area, though no further details were available at the time of writing.

In the evening, President Nicolas Maduro stated that violent opposition 
groups had also set fire to five police patrol vehicles. He also stated 
that a group of around two hundred violent activists had attempted to 
attack Miraflores Palace after the attorney general's office.

*Merida*

After weeks of small, violent protests in Merida, there was a large 
march by government supporters in one part of the Andean city, and a 
larger march by opposition supporters elsewhere. Both were observed to 
be peaceful by Venezuelanalysis. However, violence began shortly after 
the opposition march finished. Clashes took place in Merida's streets 
after individuals began burning garbage in intersections and erecting 
barricades.

A larger confrontation took place at a major intersection in the city's 
north. Witnesses told Venezuelanalys.com that they saw men in balaclavas 
occupy a number of apartments, and fire live ammunition into the streets 
below. Riot police blocked the intersection. Hundreds of government 
supporters gathered a few hundred metres behind the police lines.

"We're defending the city centre," one supporter told Venezuelanalysis.

*The Pro-Government March*

At the pro-government march in the morning, Roger Zurita told 
Venezuelanalysis.com, "I'm worried about confrontations but I'm marching 
because today is the day of the youth, to celebrate the battle of La 
Victoria, not because of the opposition march. We have to organise 
ourselves around our values. We're celebrating with happiness and peace 
the youth who struggle, our independence, the struggle for political 
power. Today we have an anti-imperialist youth and people are waking up, 
we're not going to fall for the right wing's games."

"I'm marching for various reasons, mainly because I still believe in the 
project of our country, which still hasn't been fully realised, but if 
we work just a bit harder we can do it, we have a lot to do. Also 
because it's important to show that we are many, there are a lot of 
people who believe in this. What's been happening in Merida is sad, 
regrettable. It's a shame that they [violent sectors of the opposition] 
can't propose anything without violence. We shouldn't respond with 
violence. But the only proposal they seem to have is to get people into 
power who have never cared about the people, they just want to sell our 
country to the [US] empire," Raquel Barrios told Venezuelanalysis, 
referring to the last four days of violence in Merida.

"I'm marching to commemorate the battle of La Victoria, but they [the 
opposition leadership] are manipulating the youth of Merida and parts of 
the opposition, they want to put an end to everything we've achieved, 
but they won't be able to, because we're peaceful people but ready for 
any necessary battle," said Douglas Vasquez told  Venezuelanalysis.

"Basically I'm marching to rescue Merida. We can't let Merida be in the 
hands of violent people. I'm a teacher at the University of Los Andes 
(ULA), and I feel very ashamed that the recent violent incidents are 
mostly promoted by people from the ULA, who hope to create discomfort in 
the people in order to overthrow a consolidated and democratically 
elected government," Katania Felisola said to Venezuelanalysis.

*The Opposition March*

The opposition march started at the ULA and went down the Americas 
Avenue after a last minute redirection.

Fernando Peña, a chemical engineering student at the ULA told 
Venezuelanalysis's Ewan Robertson, "The students have felt the need to 
show themselves against [the goverment], because they have taken 
students prisoner in Mérida and Táchira just for expressing their right 
to protest. Right now feelings are very tense, because the people are 
tired of the government, [and] the students are the centre of the 
mobilisation throughout the country. The people now deeply disagree with 
the decisions that the government makes...living in Venezuela has become 
ever more difficult".

Jan Carlos Lopez, worker in the Medical Faculty of the ULA told VA, 
"Some of the main reasons [for the march] are the shortages that are 
being experienced in the country, criminality, and insecurity. There 
isn't an organisation that can protect us at night time so that we can 
go out. That's what we're asking for, security so that all Venezuelans 
can live in peace."

Other opposition marchers told Robertson that they blamed the government 
for the violence, for "sending out motorbikes to attack students".

In the violence after the marches, two people have been reported as 
injured, both shot in the legs. One of those was Jilfredo Barradas, a 
state government photographer.

Further, Gustavo Bazan told Venezuelanalysis, "On Friday they [violent 
opposition sectors] wanted to store Molotov cocktails [in the apartment 
where Bazan lives] and break up bricks in order to have rocks. I stepped 
out of line a bit and I told them that here they weren't protesting 
against the government but rather against their own neighbours. I 
challenged them to take off their balaclavas and said to them they 
weren't capable of coming over and having a conversation. They jumped 
over the fence and three of them started to beat me up. A friend and a 
building security guard saved me. I filmed them while they prepared the 
Molotov cocktails".* *

*Other cities*

Electricity minister Jesse Chacon informed through his Twitter account 
that "violent groups" surrounded an electric substation in San Cristobal 
and threw Molotov cocktails at it.

According to AVN there was also violence in Aragua and Carabobo states 
"which left material damage".

The governor of Carabobo state, Francisco Ameliach said that "violent 
groups burnt a truck with liquid asphalt". Ameliach alleged that the 
head of the MUD in the state, Vicencio Scarano had financed the crimes.

The minister for internal affairs, Miguel Rodriguez Torres, said that 
violent groups had tried to set the Aragua state government building on 
fire.

*Official response*

Tonight Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz informed the public that so 
far there have been a total of two deaths, 23 injured, and thirty 
arrests. Along with Montoya, student Basil Da Costa died after suffering 
a gunshot.  She added though that public lawyers were investigating and 
visiting hospitals to determine the exact number. According to Maduro 
the two men were both shot in the head, "like the sharp shooters who 
murdered [people] on 11 April [2002]".

Ortega also said that four CICPC (Scientific Crime Investigation Body) 
vehicles were set on fire, as well as other private vehicles.

Regarding the march in Caracas, she said "they were guaranteed security 
from Plaza Venezuela to the Attorney General's Office, there was nothing 
to impede them".

Maduro also warned tonight that "whoever protests or marches without 
permission will be detained".

"These are trained groups who... are prepared to overthrow the 
government in a violent way, and I'm not going to allow this, so I call 
on Venezuela to be peaceful," Maduro said.

Foreign minister Elias Jaua alleged that Leopoldo Lopez was the 
"intellectual author of the deaths and injuries in Caracas".

The Ecuadorian government emitted a statement today condemning the "acts 
of violence and vandalism by irresponsible members of the opposition".

"We hope for the prompt reestablishment of social peace in our brother 
country and because respect for the government and its legitimately 
constituted institutions has precedence".

*Opposition statements and response*

  "This a call put out by the students and supported by the Democratic 
Unity [MUD opposition coalition], this march on the day of the youth is 
taking place when the government is repressing, with jail, with 
torture," Leopoldo Lopez told CNN yesterday, in anticipation of today's 
events.

"The government has an agenda of violence and as they control the 
monopoly [sic] over communication in Venezuela they hide it...the call 
that has been made is to be in the street," he said, blaming the 
violence over the last week in Merida and Tachira on the government.

Speaking tonight on Noticias 24 
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dv_hk8z3do#t=18>, Lopez blamed the 
national government for today's violence and deaths. "Who is generating 
the violence? The government... repression by the national guard, the 
police," he said.

Some of the top tweets 
<https://fbcdn-sphotos-f-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn2/t1/1912445_597740513646717_1759909883_n.jpg> by 
the opposition at the moment also blamed the Tupamaros groups. The 
Tupamaros are now quite small, but are often blamed for any violence 
that takes place. They support the national government.

  "They (Tupamaros) are animals and they should all die," wrote Daniel 
Garcia.

"Hitler, come back and put all the Tupamaros in gas chambers" wrote 
Andreina Leonett.

"When the first student dies all the streets of Venezuela will burn," 
wrote Jose Gamboa.

Over the last week far right opposition leaders such as Leopoldo Lopez 
have been calling for people to "go out into the street" in order to 
achieve an "exit" of the national government.

Published on Feb 12th 2014 at 11.21pm

-- 
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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