[News] Head of Venezuela’s Barricades Arrested
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu May 1 11:03:14 EDT 2014
Head of Venezuela’s Barricades Arrested
By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim
Merida, 30^th April 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – A key organiser of the
Venezuelan opposition’s barricade groups, and a suspect in the shooting
of a prominent revolutionary figure have been arrested in separate
incidents, according to authorities.
President Nicolas Maduro stated that weapons had been seized during the
first arrest, and accused the unnamed organiser dubbed /El Aviado/” (the
Aviator) of “seeking an armed insurrection against Venezuelan democracy”.
“48 hours ago we captured one of the brains of the barricader
insurrection ... [that aimed to] overthrow the government during the
months of February, March and April,” Maduro stated yesterday.
The president indicated that the organiser is cooperating with
authorities. “[/El Aviador] /is talking, and is saying everything,” he
“He was paying the snipers who killed National Guards (GNB)...and
wounded I don’t know how many hundreds of Venezuelans, “he said.
At least 41 people have been killed and hundreds wounded in political
violence since opposition barricades spread to around six of Venezuela’s
major cities in February.
“They wanted to create a civil war. But here, there was no civil war,
there was no coup nor will there be a coup,” Maduro stated.
In a separate announcement, interior minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres
stated that a different unidentified individual has been arrested in
connection to the shooting and death of the president of the municipal
council of Caracas’s Libertador municipality, Eliecer Otaiza. The body
of the prominent /Chavista/ figure and former intelligence chief was
found riddled with bullets on Saturday on the outskirts of Caracas
According to Rodriguez, Otaiza was murdered under “very strange
circumstances” after his vehicle was stopped by an armed group.
“[The vehicle] was approached by several armed individuals, they stopped
the vehicle, beat him savagely and then abandoned it”.
Otaiza attempted to fight his assailants, but was shot four times,
according to Rodriguez. He also stated that police believe they may have
already identified the other assailants.
The minister stated Otaiza had been “executed”, but didn’t give any
indication of a possible motive. However, yesterday Maduro said that
opponents of the government could be behind the killing.
“Let's not forget the context of the last few months,” Maduro stated.
“There's no such thing as a casual coincidence,” he said.
A funeral service was held for Otaiza earlier today.
A further ten people have been charged in relation to opposition
protests over the weekend, a lawyer for the prison monitor /Foro Penal/
has stated, according to Ultimas Noticias
Members of the group face charges including incitement and conspiracy,
according to the head of the Foundation for Due Process, Jackeline de
Guevara. One individual also faces charges related to the possession of
explosives, according to Guevara.
The arrestees were among more than 20 people who were detained by
authorities in Caracas on Saturday, amid fresh clashes between security
forces and violent anti-government groups.
According to Rodriguez, clashes began when small groups attempted to
erect barricades in some parts of Caracas, after thousands of opposition
supporters marched peacefully through the city. Security forces
reportedly used tear gas to disperse the violent groups, which fought
back with molotov cocktails.
One group also attacked GNB troops. According to Rodriguez, some of the
detainees were captured after they tried to escape authorities through
“They [anti-government groups] would climb into houses, invading the
privacy of people, their homes; but the same people in the neighbourhood
facilitated the capture of these terrorists,” he said.
The minister stated that some locals “grabbed these people and gave them
to the National Guard”.
Eight minors were among the detainees. Rodriguez accused opposition
groups of “manipulating” the juveniles into being “used as mules to go
unnoticed by the police”.
“In their backpacks, instead of carrying notebooks, they were carrying
petrol bombs, nails, improvised caltrops, and explosives used by the
terrorists,” Rodriguez stated.
“Parents must be alert, they should know that social networks are
calling children to commit violent acts,” he stated.
According to authorities, all minors detained on Saturday have since
been released. On Tuesday, Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz stated
that no minors are currently being held by Venezuelan authorities.
“There are teens who were arrested on suspicion of committing crimes,
and we are investigating these crimes, but the minors have been
released. No juvenile is being detained,” Ortega stated.
The attorney general also stated that her office has received 145
allegations of human rights abuses against security forces. The latest
response by the government to accusations of human rights violations has
been the arrest of new suspects in connection to the death of student
protester Geraldine Moreno.
Moreno was allegedly shot dead by GNB personnel
<http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10401> in February. Three arrest
warrants have been issued in connection to the shooting, Ortega stated.
The attorney general pledged to ensure all potential cases of human
rights abuses are investigated, but warned protesters that the
government will continue to take action against violent groups.
“The state has had to act against [violent demonstrations] that threaten
stability, and are against life and peace,” Ortega stated.
Throughout the week security forces have continued to dismantle
barricades in hotspots nationwide, including in the capital and the
Authorities have begun large scale operations to remove barricades in
the east of Caracas, while the barricade hotbed of Merida city has
already been mostly cleared of barricades. Last week hundreds of
volunteers joined security forces in a citywide offensive
<http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10643> to clear Merida’s main roads of
fortified barricades. Today soldiers continued to patrol some parts of
the city, and the street cleaning operation is still underway.
However, authorities in Tachira state have warned that anti-government
groups are continuing hit-and-run attacks, after nine public buses were
torched in the state on Tuesday, according to General Vladimir Padrino.
A vehicle belonging to the GNB was also torched in Baruta, Caracas on
Tuesday, according to government sources.
Rodriguez said that authorities will “continue working permanently” to
counter political violence.
“There is a small radical group, a minority, still trying to create
chaos [and] violence. But today, we tell Venezuelans ... that we have
absolutely defeated these groups,” he stated.
“The only option is to take the path of peace, coexistence,” Rodriguez
However, the wife of detained far right-wing figure Leopoldo Lopez has
issued new calls for protests. The opposition’s demonstrations have
waned in recent weeks, with smaller turnouts than in February. However,
Lilian Tintori stated that “political change is coming”.
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