“Maduro won’t let himself be ousted, so he’s a dictator,” said Nicolás, referring to himself in the third person, when vice-president El Aissami concluded his fallacious war report in cadena, after having kept national TV screens free of the protests that took place in 17 states accross the country along the day. Nicolás compared recent protests with the ones in previous years, remarking the aggressiveness of these last few days, as if hunger wasn’t a crucial boundary, as if desperation wasn’t an incentive for people to participate. He said that 30 people had been arrested yesterday, claiming that the rest are fully identified and demanding that “the people charged with keeping public order in Miranda and the remaining municipalities” must adhere to their responsibilities, exactly what the TSJ justices who violated the Constitution won’t do.
For some reason, Nicolás has been clumsily recycling his messages for days, repeating his lies, unable to set course. According to him the National Guard and the National Police complied with the Constitution. A definitively toxic version of the Constitution. He lied when he said that marches must be authorized, it’s absurd to think that a protest must be allowed by those whose abuses you’re trying to protest against. “We’re going to defeat them again,” he said. Sadly, he must stick to violence, because if it were elections, he’d be defeated each time.
Just like Nicolás lied claiming that 100,000 people had been in the chavista march —2,000 is already an exaggeration— compared to the few thousands marching with the opposition, Tareck El Aissami said that the goal of yesterday’s march wasn’t reaching the Ombudsman’s Office, but the Palace of Miraflores “to cause a bloodbath.” And just like Interior minister Reverol messed up by remarking the risks of isolating Caracas, El Aissami did the same by addressing the dissident population: “You can’t keep being cannon fodder, you can’t continue to be manipulated so that your leaders end up taking you to an ambush.” In other words, the vice-president himself admits that the government’s strategy is to ambush citizens and fire cannons, and in spite of this, he praised the GN and the PNB for their courage.
He lied profusely, with details that anyone in the march could deny: the presence of terrorist groups that ransacked the Gustavo Herrera school (we all saw the objects were just trash); that each political leader coordinated an assault group, that dissidents had explosive devices and even worse, that nobody was wounded, save for a GN captain. El Aissami was in charge of persuading us that there will be more repression and arrests, but he failed; he didn’t even manage to pull out the usual comparison with events on April 11th, 2002, which will always be useful to chavismo, except when its coming him.
The call for this Thursday was to reach the Francisco Fajardo highway near Altamira, with rallying points located in various points of the city. The speeches of several leaders on a truck —with clear and loud sound— were insufficient for an audience that was still sparse along the highway. But the Ombudsman’s Office was once more proposed as a destination to demand Tarek William Saab that the Republican Moral Council denounce the severe violation committed by the TSJ’s justices. The mass effect is always overwhelming and people started walking west, chanting, acknowledging a key fact: “We-are-more!”
The blockade was waiting for us way before reaching the Ombudsman’s Office and with enough tear gas cans for each citizen to leave with a dozen of them. Policemen and guardsmen were equally cruel and the vanguard repeated the strategy of pushing ahead, retreating, then coming back again. Most opposition leaders were in the frontline, they choked like us on tear gas and they even prevented some arbitrary arrests. Chacao municipality authorities reported 19 people injured by trauma, rubber bullets, asphyxia and second and third degree burns. There were journalists among those wounded and arrested. Later, the Ombudsman said that the Republican Moral Council declared that the request to remove TSJ justices was invalid, because the reversed rulings had fixed everything. It’s absurd to think that, after the General Prosecutor said those rulings were violating the Constitution, scrubbing a couple of paragraphs will fix it, and nobody should be held accountable.
The worst part
So, none of what I’ve already told you about is the worst part of the day. That place is reserved to the statements issued by some PSUV leaders. Freddy Bernal, a policeman who now decides who gets the CLAP boxes, threatened Miranda governor Henrique Capriles: “You want people to die by orders of the U.S: State Department (…) Don’t come to us crying if disgrace hits one of these days and you end up in prison like your pals Leopoldo López and Julio Borges,” later claiming that if the time should come when each Venezuelan citizen must take a Kalashnikov to defend the country, they would be ready. He didn’t say if they were ready to hand them over, like they did to their colectivos, or to shoot them themselves.
Diosdado Cabello claimed that the opposition “lacks the strength, or the balls” chavismo has, that “there won’t be any change in Venezuela” even with blood and that the opposition won’t enter downtown Caracas; and then he went on to mocking all the Human Rights violations committed by the government, attributing them to the alleged homosexuality of opposition leaders. He ordered the entire government bureaucracy to attend every event they call for. Lastly, Communes minister Aristóbulo Istúriz said that they wouldn’t take any crap from the OAS and, true to his teaching years, he said: “We’re going to assume that this shit is on, and chavismo is ready for everything.” Cabello also said that “if that fight is truly unavoidable, we must remain alert.” Violence, that’s their only play now.
Opposition party leaders called for renewed nationwide protests this Saturday, April 8. In Caracas, they will take place in the Francisco de Miranda avenue. “We have people injured by gunshots in Anzoátegui, 18 people wounded in Caracas, repression all over Venezuela (…) While others offer Kalashnikov rifles and blood, we offer elections, this is a dictatorship, there’s no Rule of Law,” said lawmaker Freddy Guevara.
Henrique Capriles asserted that Interior minister Néstor Reverol was behind repression and paramilitary groups yesterday and restated that we can’t accept elections for 2018. Lawmaker Henry Ramos Allup condemned the government’s statements: “Diosdado, change won’t come with blood but with votes (…) I say to Bernal that those Kalashnikovs should be in the hands of the Armed Forces, not in his (…) Aristóbulo, you murdered independence.”
There were mixed indignations on the street yesterday. We swallowed a lot of tear gas, but it was worth it, because repression can’t win against rightful indignation, and propaganda is powerless against resistance. We are more. If you’ve stayed at home so far, come on Saturday, join us!Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.