The police and the National Guard keep hiking their sadism. Yesterday’s march barely reached José Lazo Martí avenue and you could smell the tear gas farther down in the arepera Misia Jacinta. Avenues Tamanaco and Venezuela in El Rosal turned into shelters for protesters, as they repeated the tactic of advancing and retreating to the beat of the bombs and a wind that favored them, from south to north, as if blowing toward the Ávila. But the PNB decided to apply the strategy of ambushing protesters, as announced by vice-president El Aissami, and forced us to run for cover in nearby buildings. Once they got us there, cops on their motorcycles shot practically a tear gas canister per person. Meanwhile and due to the attacks, the original group in Plaza Brión splintered into five smaller groups, and each one of them was attacked with the same intent.
Attacking the rally at Chacaíto tells us that chavismo won’t allow any more public assemblies, that repression includes harassment and that harassment also includes inciting violence in peaceful protests, the shortest way to justify repression and violate the right to assembly and protest.
State forces no longer want to dissuade or disperse, now they give chase, they harass, they shoot directly at protests, steal, attack and even shoot tear gas from helicopters, even though it’s a crime according to the Law on Civil Aviation. They keep shooting bombs against residential buildings, malls, clinics and hospitals, compromising the recovery of the most vulnerable citizens. The idea is to ban marches altogether, preventing the opposition to call for rallies.
Vade retro, Satan!
Interior minister Néstor Reverol doesn’t even know how to read or lie. That’s why he condemned this Monday’s violent events in “some areas of eastern Caracas” and claimed that national and international media are “attempting to show violent images about a country that is in complete normality.” He repeated that protesters are terrorists and extremists and also said that we’re the anti-christ. That’s why his tally of 18 people arrested leaves a crucial doubt: will they be presented before court or taken to a church so they can be exorcised? He didn’t mention the abuses by security bodies, or the tear gas bombs reportedly shot from a helicopter, or against health care centers.
From condemning to denouncing
Tarek William Saab is so chavista, that in order to minimize yesterday’s repression, he cited “the atrocities of 2014,” modeling this year’s protests according to the PSUV’s blueprint. These atrocities are still unpunished with the regime’s consent, because the Ombudsman’s Office has done nothing to investigate those events, even with all the documentation provided by the press about the abuses of power. The Ombudsman, whose Twitter account that must have a record of people blocked in Venezuela (@TarekWilliamSaab), admitted the excessive repression and confirmed that tear gas bombs were thrown down from police helicopters and that this practice may cause fatal victims. But, why did Saab tweet? Because many videos on social networks remain as evidence for the world to see. He merely condemned the actions, but didn’t denounce them, which makes his tweets essentially useless, even more when we know that those flying the helicopter used to allegedly launch the bombs should be removed from their posts, investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office and sanctioned.
Panic in society
Mayor David Smolansky said it was absurd for Nicolás to order an investigation against him for remarking that the tear gas that’s been used against the marches has potentially dangerous effects on people. Later, minister Elías Jaua demanded evidence of these accusations and claimed that Smolansky’s words are an attempt by the opposition to promote a U.S. invasion, jeopardizing Venezuela’s security and causing panic in society —what hundreds of tear gas bombs a day can’t accomplish. All of this merely to demand authorities to investigate the mayor, then announcing the PSUV’s march on April 19th, in defense of sovereignty. It’s pretty clear what sovereignty chavismo means when we see Nicolás impose a cadena from Havana.
The empire spoke
Mark Toner, spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said last night that the Venezuelan government must stop silencing the opposition’s voices, that the U.S. is greatly concerned by Henrique Capriles’ political disqualification and that, in view of the recent hike in repression, they join the Venezuelan people in our call for immediate elections, respect for the Constitution and the National Assembly, and the release of political prisoners. He added that they firmly support the OAS Permanent Council’s resolution, demanding the government to guarantee full restoration of the democratic order and urging Nicolás to reconsider his decision to bar Capriles from running for office and guarantee that Venezuelans can exercise our electoral rights.
But they weren’t the only ones
Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, said that governor Henrique Capriles’ disqualification “doesn’t help reduce conflict and tension in the country,” adding that violence and the use of force won’t solve the current crisis. OAS secretary general Luis Almagro and Brazil’s Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes, called for the restitution of democracy in Venezuela, agreeing that only elections can solve the serious political and institutional crisis in the country. Spanish Foreign minister Alfonso Dastis also insisted on demanding “an urgent and inclusive dialogue” in Venezuela that must bring concrete results in the short term in order to restore democracy.
Lastly, and as a side note to our conflict, the UN issued a statement announcing the visit of Norwegian mediator Dag Nylander, who will hold high-level meetings to interact with the governments of Guyana and Venezuela to try to resolve the legal conundrums about the Esequibo.
The Central Bank kindly reports: during the first three months of 2017, 102,7 million Bs. 100 banknotes in circulation, meaning that the amount of bills of this denomination increased. Forget about the new bills and coins.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.