Peace with pepper spray

Your briefing for Wednesday, April 5, 2017. Translated by Javier Liendo.

A riot policeman fires into the air during clashes with opposition supporters at a rally demanding a referendum to remove President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, May 11, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Chavismo stuck to their protocol against opposition marches: access to Caracas blocked, metro stations closed and the Libertador municipality surrounded by security forces. The disproportionate deployment of police and military officers, who have declared themselves chavistas in the past —so their actions have more to do with partisan interests than with security— violated the rights to assembly and to free transit. Barring a protest only because it’s opposition, as well as the assault against elected authorities and citizens, are hallmarks of a dictatorship. The Vallés funeral parlor, so close to Libertador avenue, saw different kind of tears yesterday.

Progressive use of force?

Chavista paramilitary groups once more operated with absolute impunity, riding their motos and shooting their guns, overcoming the impact of hundreds of tear gas cans used by their peers in uniform, because rubber pellets are losing their effectiveness and the ballena’s water cannon was more of a nuisance than an actual deterrent. Authorities indiscriminately used pepper spray, whose toxicity has been denounced in the past, and this time they sprayed it abundantly and at close range, dismissing Venezuelan legislation on the matter. The principle of progressive use of force was left in the same place where they dump their dignity, because preventing citizens from exercising their rights and thus defending the dictatorship, also affects them in many ways.


Protesters ended up wounded and arrested when they simply sought to accompany the lawmakers to the National Assembly, where they would discuss the removal of the seven justices of the TSJ’s Constitutional Chamber. The session was postponed for today, April 5. Speaker Julio Borges said yesterday that: “Democracy and the Constitution remain violated in Venezuela,” adding that there’s no rule of law in the country, before criticizing Nicolás’ statements —predicting “a beating” against the opposition for next year’s elections. In any case, the AN will hold a special session today where they’ll discuss the seven justices’ removal and they called for an event this Thursday at the highway, near Altamira.

The march that was

Chavismo was left scrambling after the beating they took at the OAS. The fact that several nations joined to denounce the breakdown of constitutional order changes everything, and reveals the irrelevance of dialogue as a potential solution to a crisis of these proportions, caused by a regime such as this one. Chavismo has been denouncing what they do themselves for a while now. Yesterday they marched against an ongoing coup d’État, even though they who took away the Referendum, they haven’t established an electoral timetable, public powers are still under Executive Branch control and they block the authority of the only legitimately democratic power: the National Assembly.

Only their bureaucracy attended their rally. Once more, chavismo takes to the streets without the people. Diosdado Cabello said again that any traitor (dissident) “must be treated as an enemy within our territory,” in other words, he justified State violence; he claimed that “the most radical wing of the U.S. State Department is pushing the national right-wing toward violence,” but don’t worry, according to him, people know what they must do: stand in line before supermarkets to see what they can buy at controlled prices to eat later, obviously.

The usefulness of contempt

Once again, the TSJ showed that the corrected rulings changed nothing, that’s why its president, Maikel Moreno, remarked this Tuesday that the National Assembly lacks legality and legitimacy to remove the justices due to its contempt, claiming that Parliament can’t “exercise functions that are exclusive to the Citizen Power alone” and saying that, since the AN doesn’t have the two thirds majority to achieve a favorable vote with a qualified majority, the first requirement to declare a severe violation and remove a justice, there’s no way they can continue the procedure. Yesterday night, the TSJ issued a statement where they ratify that Nicolás has full authority to approve the creation of joint ventures without the AN’s consent and contempt also justifies the Tribunal’s legislative capacity.


Interior minister Néstor Reverol held Miranda governor Henrique Capriles personally responsible for blocking the Francisco Fajardo highway in protests: “Governor Henrique Capriles Radonski, whose golpista and violent track record is common knowledge, blocked free transit in Caracas’ main traffic artery, with actions that violate the constitutional order.” It’s ironic that Reverol should lay the blame on Capriles and then call for an investigation against him. Capriles responded that the government commits a series of abuses and violations, protects and provides weapons to its paramilitary groups, but accuses the opposition: “This incompetent fool (Reverol) heads an institution in charge of security. Why doesn’t he present information about the 29,000 Venezuelans murdered on his watch in 2016?”

Tarek, resign

While the Prosecutor’s Office appointed officials to investigate the attacks and injuries suffered by journalist Elyangélica González and lawmakers Juan Requesens and José Brito, PSUV’s Ombudsman did the same, late as usual, so late in fact that he must have missed the joint complaint issued by over 100 Human Rights institutions demanding his resignation for publicly supporting TSJ ruling 155. An illegal support not only because it should’ve been issued at all by the Moral Republican Council members in consensus, but also because the Ombudsman has unquestionably exhibited his lack of independence. If you can, sign the petition for his resignation.

Arriba, abajo, Almagro pal carajo

That’s what Nicolás was chanting in Apure, claiming that the U.S. gave the order to “fill the streets of Venezuela with violence and blood (…) once more, peace triumphed in Caracas this April 4th, by the hand of the people, of the civilian-military union, peace has triumphed. The OAS’s inquisition is doomed to fail.” He added that there will be elections in 2018 where the PSUV will win and urged MUD to wise up only to yell later: “You won’t return, fascists!” Nicolás should read that an Argentine judge is trying former president Cristina Fernández and her children for alleged money laundering, that Chile announced that their ambassador won’t return and that Peru’s Congress also declared the rupture of constitutional order in Venezuela.

Tal Cual was born on April 4th, 2000. Straightforward like its founder, Teodoro Petkoff, this newspaper that is now distributed weekly due to the shortage of paper with which the government violates free speech, has faced fines, judicial and criminal lawsuits, has been summoned by the Prosecutor’s Office, and its journalists and photographers have suffered all kinds of attacks. It’s quality journalism, without self-censorship, without euphemisms. Today, I not only congratulate them but also ratify my pride in writing for them.

Naky Soto

Naky gets called Naibet at home and at the bank. She coordinates training programs for an NGO. She collects moments and turns them into words. She has more stories than freckles.