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World Mental-Health Day

An inside story in El Nacional tells us it’s World Mental-Health Day today. How apropos. Mental health is not particularly on-show out there today, though…not in Venezuela, anyway.

In the early morning, two separate convoys of busses carrying protesters to the march in Caracas were basically ambushed: the roads were blocked, either with hijacked 18-wheeler trucks or burning tires, and then someone started shooting into the buses. One guy was killed in one of the ambushes, apparently an innocent by-stander, in Guarico state. The other ambush was on the main east-west highway, on the border between Aragua and Carabobo States, and left six people wounded with gunshots, three of them Carabobo State police officers. Once again, the events were carried live on the radio, as people on the scene got on their cell-phones and called news radio stations. It was eerie: you could hear the shooting in the background.

Significantly, the second raid happened just outside a highway tunnel, directly in front of a National Guard outpost. Some reports from the scene were adamant that the National Guardsmen did the shooting. Certainly, they stood by and did nothing for over four hours while the access to the tunel remained blocked in both directions by trucks. At about 9:30, they finally lifted the blockage and let people through.

I’m just now hearing there was a similar blocked-road incident in Sucre State also.

Three ambushes, miles and miles apart, with people shooting guns on busloads of opposition supporters, all at the same time. This just couldn’t have happened without coordination. Ugly, ugly stuff.

Anyway, the TV images are quite eloquent. The march looks huge. Arial shots taken from a high-rise on Francisco de Miranda Avenue show the entire area from the Parque del Este metro stop to the Plaza Altamira packed solid. I don’t know how many people that is, but it’s a lot. Once again, it’s obvious: the bungled “repression” from the last few days only provoked people more. After the Rosendo/Medina Gomez circus last night, nobody but nobody is intimidated.

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Known to friend and foe alike as Quico, Francisco Toro is Executive Editor at Caracas Chronicles.

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