[News] Venezuelan Capital Sees Rise in Violent Street Bands - opposition withdraws from talks

Anti-Imperialist News 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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