[News] Venezuelan Capital Sees Rise in Violent Street Bands - opposition withdraws from talks
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu May 15 13:22:25 EDT 2014
Venezuelan Capital Sees Rise in Violent Street Bands Following
Opposition Withdrawal from Peace Talks
By Arlene Eisen
Caracas, 14^th May 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) -- On Wednesday early
afternoon, bands of right-wing protestors attacked the Ministry of
Tourism with incendiary devices, rocks and homemade fragmentation
grenades. Hours later, police arrested some 80 rock and
explosive-throwers who tried to re-erect barricades in the wealthy
Altamira district. This was the second day of clashes between rock
throwers and the National Guard in the neighborhood.
The rekindling of street violence follows a widely publicized press
conference held by the leadership of the Democratic Unity Table (MUD),
where the opposition coalition announced their withdrawal from the
dialogue talks initiated by the government of President Nicolas Maduro.
Further, by the end of last week, both houses of the U.S. Congress
appeared poised to pass economic sanctions and increased financial
support by the U.S. government to the Venezuelan opposition.
The street clashes resulted in the shutdown of three vital metro
stations and various stores in affected neighborhoods. A number of local
residents expressed to Venezuelanalysis.com their frustration and anger
at the continued disruption of their lives by "the students and National
The opposition mayor of Chacao, the municipality that includes Altamira,
added his voice to the mounting alienation of the right-wing youth. "The
protests have become vandalism, there is nothing civic about them. They
cause chaos in the neighborhood." And in response to the second attack
on the Ministry of Tourism, the government's tourism minister, Andres
Izarra, reiterated, "This is not a civic protest, it is violent fascist
protest whose objective is to destroy state institutions."
Yet, on Tuesday, Ramon Aveledo, the executive secretary of the MUD
claimed that the government was overreacting to peaceful student
demonstrations and objected to the arrest of protestors-- who
authorities maintained had attempted to set fire to the Papal Nuncio in
This alleged repression of demonstrators was one of the reasons Aveledo
gave for boycotting peace talks, saying this would continue until the
government demonstrated its "commitment to peace".
Aveledo gave several examples of ways the opposition considers the
government could prove "it is ready to talk," such as to grant amnesty
to what the opposition calls "political prisoners", including Ivan
Simonovis, the former Caracas police commissioner who was sentenced to
30 years in prison for his participation in killings during the 2002
coup attempt against the Chavez government.
Other conditions were to free all demonstrators arrested for alleged
violent crimes, allow all demonstrations to proceed without police
"interference", and to form a Truth Commission whose members are trusted
by all. The pro-government majority in the National Assembly has
established a Truth Commission to investigate "all" acts of violence
since the beginning of February, and is exhorting the opposition to
participate, along with members of civil society.
Despite Aveledo's list of conditions, he suggested that the opposition
could resume dialogue when ministers from the Union of South American
Nations (UNASUR), who are mediating the talks, arrive again in the
country. He said, "There has to be some adjustments by the
government...because we're discontented with the way things are going."
President Maduro meanwhile insisted that the government would continue
its commitment to the dialogue process and emphasized that those who
follow the Bolivarian process "are the majority of the nation and have
been so for many years."
"I'm not going to leave the dialogue table, and I hope that they [the
opposition] also stay, as the very act of talking and debating is an
important democratic advance, dialogue itself is a positive result for
all Venezuelans," he affirmed. The president added that he "recognized
the opposition for their virtues and non virtues" and would "take into
account" some of the ideas they had proposed in dialogue so far.
Maduro responded to Ramon Aveledo's comments by arguing that they
reflect pressures from both abroad and the hard-line opposition to
destroy the dialogue process.
"I know about the pressure from extremist sectors, I know that the
pressure exerted from Miami is great, including with threats. I know
about the pressure that is exerted by the extremist lobby that passes
its time in Washington conspiring its craziness against Venezuela," he
The Venezuelan president added that these "extremist pressures" are
impelled by Miami-based self-imposed exiles who have been waging a
concerted lobbying campaign in the U.S. congress for sanctions.
In addition to the threat of sanctions, the legislation that passed the
House Foreign Affairs Committee authorizes intervention in Venezuela's
internal affairs by "promoting internet freedom, access to information,
expanding activities to train Human Rights, civil society and democracy
activists..." It also pledges a minimum of $5 million in additional
funding for these activities.
Maduro noted that the Congressional proposal "encourages extremist groups".
At the same time, Venezuela's Attorney General, Luisa Ortega Diaz,
called the US attempt to sanction Venezuela "insolent". She added, "The
U.S. doesn't have the moral authority to name itself a champion of human
Unlike U.S. police authorities, who United Nations Rapporteurs have
found to kill and torture with impunity, Diaz announced that 19 police
and military personnel have been detained for alleged abuses to the
rights of demonstrators since the beginning of 2014.
The National Assembly also rejected what they called U.S. Secretary of
State John Kerry's "meddling". Assembly deputy Elvis Amoroso, a member
of the Truth Commission, noted that at their second meeting they
designated a sub commission to receive complaints from any Venezuelan
regarding any human rights violation by a public official. He encouraged
anyone in such a situation to submit testimony and videos to the sub
commission via email.
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