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If your city’s traffic looks odd, it could be due to the call for a nationwide 24 hour strike agreed by the national transport professionals union, at their national transport assembly held on June 11th, prompted by lack of materials and spare parts. The weekend was marked by violence, closing last night with Amazonas state governor Liborio Guarulla’s denunciation of the violent protest by Huotojas (Piaroa) natives in San Juan de Manapiare, who burnt down a National Guard’s command post in response to alleged torture against underaged natives. Before that, social networks had been rocked by videos recorded in Cerezal (Sucre state) that show the National Guard’s violence against protesters who shut down a road to protest food shortages.

Article 68 of the Constitution reads: “Citizens (and ciudadanas) have the Right to protest, peacefully and without weapons, without any requirement other than those set out by Law. The use of weapons and toxic substances is prohibited in the control of peaceful protests. The Law will regulate the behaviour of police and security forces in the control of pubic order”.

But official repression has been harsher on protests than on lootings, and has greatly multiplied in recent months. June has already seen three murders in protests: Jenny Ortiz (age 42) in Táchira; José Antonio Tovar (age 21) in Petare, and Luis Josmel Fuentes (age 21) in Cerezal. Pellets, pepper spray, and bullets. Repression, lots of repression, with enough wounded to show the Government’s inability to deal with protests and an obscene official silence facing most people’s anguish. That painfully sums up the state of emergency  and Nicolás’s determination to authorize the use of weapons in protest control, a necessary resource for OLPs.

As Ombudsman, Tarek William Saab has proven more adept at blocking citizens from his social media accounts than a responding to barbarism. If he’s spoken about this, it’s yet to be broadcast, but there can be no justification for violating the Human Rights of citizens who clamor for food. Denying shortages with propaganda feeds no one, not even if they make CLAPs grow at the same dizzying clip at which they’ve been ruling out recall signatures. Medicine and food shortages get steeper, people fall farther into despair, and the Government prefers shooting to admitting its circumstances, its mistakes, its crisis. You get shot for asking for things you can’t live without, yet many are allowed to loot, beat deputies, and discriminate against opposition members, free of consequences.

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