Venezuela’s drama never ends. On Wednesday night, once I finished my nightly writing exercise, I was astonished to the read the statements issued by Major General José Rafael Torrealba, commander of Lara’s Operative Zone of Integral Defense (Zodi Lara), reacting to yet another viral video showing chavista paramilitary groups —mislabeled colectivos—departing from a base under his command. Torrealba explained that those motorizados are helping them clear the rubble left by “violent groups.” So far, Lara has been the state hardest hit by repression in terms of people wounded, arrested or killed. Yesterday, Gruseny Antonio Canelón died from wounds he took while protesting on April 11th. His life’s story is moving and the account of the doctor who treated him, heartbreaking. Tony, as his friends used to call him, died because he was shot many times at close range, but also because there are no medicines or medical supplies to treat a case like his.
It’s disheartening to see a General blithely justify the handiwork of regime cutthroats, and with such a lousy argument. Guns and hoods are rather useless to clear rubble. Amidst of this crisis, chavismo has chosen only to react to whatever goes viral on social media (mostly videos), proving their institutional ruin but also reducing severe Human Rights violations to mere propagandistic retaliations; in other words, “If you saw it on social media, we’ll answer on social media,” with a propaganda machine simplifying everything, both blatantly and cynically. A country can’t be run through Twitter, but that’s what they’ve turned the State into: hashtags promoted by bots and urgent, damage-control responses to viral content. The most concerning part of recent events is chavismo’s decision to brand protesters as terrorists that should be indicted and prosecuted as such.
Yesterday afternoon, journalist Gabriela González reported that eight detainees from April 11th were presented in military tribunals. Seven of them live in the building across the street of the CORE 4 and the eighth is the building’s security guard. They’re being accused to trespassing on a security zone. Recording paramilitary groups leading a military facility is a martial crime now.
Transport-less and rainy
PSUV’s Metro de Caracas decided to shut the city down, closing 27 stations in response to the opposition’s call to march from two rally points: El Marqués on the east, and Montalbán on the west. They also suspended Metrobus routes and restricted access to Caracas. Every leader in attendance ratified the call to march on April 19th, remarking that they wouldn’t try to reach any public institutions this Holy Thursday. Although politicians concluded the eastern event in Parque Cristal singing the National Anthem, a group of citizens descended to the highway and managed to get to El Rosal, where the PNB and the GNB darkened the city with tear gas and pellets once again. Meanwhile, the western march took a much more complex and daring route, crossing Libertador municipality -to Jorge Rodríguez’s chagrin- without problems or repression – from civilians or policemen -. It was a peaceful walk and far larger than previously expected due to the rain. Ouch, Jorge.
Well, ouch everyone!
Because Puente Llaguno had more room for the stage and the cameras, than for the “people who celebrate the return of the giant Hugo Chávez, thanks to civilian-military cooperation and the courage of loyal revolutionary soldiers who restored power to him who will never leave Miraflores,” according to the VTV commentator. Poor guy. Passes to the event soon turned to comments about the weather, as the anchor asked people under the tents what they remembered about that glorious day and got basic, empty replies. As is his habit recently, Nicolás was nowhere to be found, but neither was any other high-ranking bureaucrat. For a date supposed to be “triumphant”, the PSUV insulted what’s left of their militancy.
Yesterday, Tarek William Saab urged the people to remain united to preserve peace in the nation against the golpista plan being advanced by sectors of the country’s far right: “Whether you support the government or not, this is about preserving democratic institutionality and republican life,” adding that revolutionaries can’t forget the events of 2002, when the constitutional order was actually broken. He also mentioned OAS’s hypocrisy in criticizing the Venezuelan government while they ignore issues in other countries, claiming that this government is “a system that respects and allows debate and freedom amidst such an intense and terrible contingency as this.” Yes, he undoubtedly knows about hypocrisy.
A retort, Tarek
This Thursday, OAS’s head Luis Almagro demanded an end to the homicidal actions of chavista paramilitaries: “Repression must end in Venezuela, criminal sanctions from so-called security forces must end (…) the homicidal actions of paramilitary groups known as colectivos must stop,” remarking that the Venezuelan regime’s hands are covered in blood and that Venezuela has an ally in him and the OAS in the restoration of democracy.
Attacks against the press
The Inter American Press Association condemned the recent attacks against the Venezuelan press and reminded journalists and outlets worldwide of their obligation to denounce them. The statement says that the government keeps “penalizing social protest and the exercise of free speech,” adding that “these recent acts of violence confirm the restrictions of freedom of speech and press, increasing harassment and physical and institutional violence.” While condemning these incidents, the head IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Roberto Rock, said that journalists and outlets are completely helpless against chavismo, who blames them of all the country’s issues and go even farther by “encouraging and justifying these attacks (…) they weren’t attacked only when they covered protests, they’re constantly exposed to danger when they try to report daily events,” he pointed out.
Susana Raffalli, from Caritas de Venezuela, said yesterday that child malnutrition is worsening and that it’s impossible to mitigate it if the State keeps ignoring the health care crisis, that’s tough, because earlier, the good people at Cecodap reminded us all that exactly a year ago, judge Oswaldo Tenorio denied protective measures for children due to medicine shortages; a year ago a chavista judge chose to deny the crisis and the shortage of medicines and consequently sentence the children who need them to death. That’s how chavismo treats children.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.