CLAPs' Move to Take Over Food Distribution Sparks Disturbances in Fuerzas Armadas Avenue

As the new Local Committees for Supply and Production moved to divert price controlled food deliveries from Avenida Fuerzas Armadas, tempers boiled over and a riot ensued.

Translated by Javier Liendo

Read the original in Cronica.Uno

Early this morning, like every morning, people stood in line outside shops at the Fuerzas Armadas avenue in Caracas. There are more than 70 shops along this main downtown avenue, and there were lines outside many of the shops.

At around 9:00 am, when delivery trucks started to arrive, members of the Local Committees of Supply and Production (CLAP) appeared and intercepted the drivers, attempting to divert the trucks. Some said that they were meant for warehouses in the Ciudadela de Catia and others said they were for the Fundación de Desarrollo Endógeno Agroalimentario (Fundeca), an institution belonging to the District Government.

The plan is for no more price controlled food to be sold on some of Caracas’s main shopping avenues.

Almost 20 CLAP members tried to negotiate with shop owners and drivers.

One of them, who declined to give his name for safety reasons, reported that last Wednesday, June 1st, there was a meeting with Daniel Aponte, chief of the Government of Caracas District in which they decided to roll out a civilian-military deployment to take control of the transport and distribution of price controlled products.

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The plan is for no more price controlled food to be sold on some of Caracas’s main shopping avenues – Baralt, Urdaneta, Sucre, Libertador, San Martín, Universidad, Lecuna, Andrés Bello and Fuerzas Armadas avenues – as a way of eliminating queues permanently.

According to a leak of this meeting, “providers have been supplying stores in downtown Caracas much more frequently as part of a destabilization plan, and therefore no vehicles or trucks will be allowed to park before shops from Wednesday night.”

Unofficially, we heard that each truck containing price-controlled food will be inspected. The order was “They’re not to enter the avenue. They must be intercepted and redirected to Fundeca.”

We ask for food and they send in the National Guard.

The CLAP member said that food will be supplied door to door.

“The Capital District teams, the Mayorship of Libertador municipality, the SUNDEE, SUNAGRO, the National Police, the National Guard, SAIME and the PSUV will be deployed along the avenues until the task is fulfilled,” said the source, who refused to identify himself, citing safety reasons.

This information, revealed all at once, sparked unrest and caused despair in the people waiting in line to buy food. No dialogue was possible because angry and frustrated people took to the street and blocked traffic near San Ramón corner.

At around 9:00 am, the protest was on. There were fights, screams and chants against president Nicolás Maduro’s administration. The protest grew stronger as the National Police’s riot squad arrived.

“We ask for food and they send in the National Guard,” said some of the older protesters, who were joined by some shop owners, because they were informed that SUNAGRO routes in this avenue were to be blocked and redirected to Fundeca.

At 12:00 noon, despite the National Guard’s efforts to contain the protesters, a sizable group of people went to the Urdaneta avenue, near Plaza España and also blocked traffic there.

They called on passersby and residents to join to the protest for food. “The people are hungry and we’re going to Miraflores from here,” they said.

A National Police barricade stopped the march, but a group of students arrived to the place and the manifestation immediately took momentum, so much so that they decided to run towards Miraflores.

At La Pelota corner, near CICPC headquarters, they were pushed back with tear-gas.

Marchers dispersed after 1:00 pm. After that, there were isolated riots in Fuerzas Armadas avenue. No fewer than 19 journalists and photographers were attacked, robbed and intimidated during the disturbance, according to reports by NGO Espacio Público. Three photographers from El Universal were robbed, while journalists from VivoPlay, El Nacional, 2001, Caraota Digital and Crónica.Uno were forced to leave the scene.

Reports say that this Thursday night, the CLAPs were to take over Sucre, Urdaneta, San Martín, Fuerzas Armadas and Baralt avenues.

There were also protests during this Thursday morning in San Martín and Sucre avenue. Buscaracas service was suspended and shops closed all over the area.

In collaboration with Cronica.Uno


Mabel Sarmiento

Mabel Sarmiento is an UCAB-trained journalist with more than 20 years' experience covering community news, the environment, health, education and infrastructure.