Last night at around 7 p.m. a burst of gunfire rangout at the end a MUD campaign event in Altagracia de Orituco, in Guárico State. Bullets ricocheted off nearby shops. An electric converter exploded. When the dust settled, Acción Democrática’s Secretary General for Guarico State, Luis Manuel Díaz, lay dead, with gunshots to his abdomen and side. He had been standing right on the stage that Leopoldo López’s campaigning wife, Lilian Tintori, had used to address the crowd minutes earlier. No one else was injured.
Unasur issued a statement calling by an investigation by “competent national authorities”…as if we’d be in this mess if any such thing existed. OAS’s Luis Almagro was, characteristically, more forthright: “What happened is not an isolated incident, it’s something that took place jointly with other attacks against other opposition political leaders as part of a strategy geared at intimidating the opposition.”
Violence had been absent from this year’s campaign right up until lasts week, when Tintori was actively harrassed by chavista collectivo groups during an event in Cojedes. Days later, a Miguel Pizarro campaign walkabout was attacked in Petare and faced no state response whatsoever.
But yesterday’s attack in Guarico represents a serious escalation in violence. It’s hard to imagine how a campaign that had been free of violence until a week ago can witness a rash of incidents like these dispersed all over the country without someone giving a specific order.
Yesterday’s abhorrent violence settles the discussion on whether or not chavismo has grasped how bad their loss of support is. It should cause woldwide outrage! We’re talking about a politician, shot, on the stage at a public campaign event.