Photo: Francisco Bruzco, Cronica.uno

Dive into the fever swamp of the government’s propaganda machine, and the story you hear about protesters is relentless: a constantly recycled drum-beat about a fascist, terrorist far-right fringe hellbent on violence and destruction. And indeed, most protests over the last ten days have indeed involved considerable violence and mayhem — what you’d expect, when your instant reaction to anybody opposing you is to rough them up.

Protests turn violent when they are repressed. They turn violent because they are repressed. No repression, no violence. It really is straightforward. 

But on Thursday, something weird happened: the opposition called a march outside its comfort zone. Gathering in Montalban, in Caracas’s traditionally pro-government West side, thousands of people marched up to El Paraiso behind a gaggle of high profile opposition leaders. For whatever reason, the cops didn’t show up. Neither did the National Guard. Nobody tear-gassed anyone. It was weird.

The result? A perfectly calm march where nobody got hurt, nothing got looted, and thousands upon thousands of ultra-violent fascist terrorists just marched in peace under the rain and then went home. Like I said, bizarre.

Look, the government’s propaganda lines have been so radically divorced from anything like recognizable reality for so long, it can feel silly to note it: but Thursday’s West Side march was like a laboratory refutation of government propaganda.

Protests turn violent when they are repressed. They turn violent because they are repressed. No repression, no violence. It really is straightforward.

13 COMMENTS

  1. “For whatever reason, the cops didn’t show up.”

    I saw these videos on twitter, people were just marching like they do in any democratic nation.
    But it would be important to know why the hell the cops didn’t show up, as this could indicate some internal discontent, like: “We won’t repress our own neighbourhoods; we are killers, but we won’t shoot our neighbours, that’s too much to ask even for us!”

  2. It seems obvious to me that repression of opposition marches in e.g. Chacao answers to anti-white racism.
    That would be the null hypothesis, except if one is wearing blinders.

  3. Anti-white racism is the message the gvt. wants to convey by “forgetting” to repress the march. This is different from the claim that venezuelans are by and large anti-white racists…

  4. Various hypotheses: the march caught them by surprise (but, it was announced in advance); they didn’t think it would attract many followers (fear of reprisals, etc.), but they were wrong; they didn’t want to be seen tear gassing/bashing their supposed downscale base (probable); and, thereby, they can continue with the narrative that the marches/dissidence is only a small minority of Eastern Caracas well-off sifrino/as/ mamitas.

  5. Actually, Francisco: I think it is a wee bit more difficult.
    In early 1988 there was a huge university march in Caracas. People departed from UCV, went through Tres Gracias towards the West and marched next to El Helicoide into Caracas city centre. Next to El Helicoide a bunch of thugs not belonging to the march got in. Students tried to ask them to go away. They did not. When the march arrived at the very city centre the thugs started to throw stones to shops and by magic the cops started to repress everyone. They went after a teacher in mini skirts, after old people, after peaceful students. Who were the infiltrados? I think they were the usual extreme left who also became so active in Feb 1989 but also on so many other ocassions back then. I saw them time after time infiltrating peaceful marchs back then at the UCV. Those were the Jaua kind of guys.
    Your article did not focus on the really difficult question: why did the cops not repress the march?
    I honestly do not know why but I do not expect anything good from those guys.

  6. “No repression, no violence”

    But no repression means for the average chavista that they are forsaking part of their revolutionary masculinity, and that they’re getting their eye fingered by their hated enemies.

  7. This is a fascinating vignette. On this day the policing was excellent, presumably discrete and aware, but tried to not be visible like a quality referee in a football game.
    Well done by the way to Francisco Toro and his colleagues at CC – I live in northern Europe but find this an excellent news site, the reports are very human.

  8. Some hypotheses:
    – It was raining so the repressors got lazy
    – It was raining so tear gas wouldn’t work as well.
    – It was a scattered march so they wouldn’t get the classic pics showing huge numbers.
    – It was a scattered march, so they was no risk of a huge mass of people deciding to storm Miraflores at once.

  9. Easy to determine the reason – MARCH AGAIN – same way, same neighborhood, but on a larger scale.
    Is anyone left in Venezuela who is a strategist? or are they all in jail?

  10. The only reason that march was not repressed was that it didn’t try to block the higway or go towards any public institution. It was just like a rally and protesters felt it that way too. There’s no mistery behind it, the cops were around and everytime we got close to any highway entrance they would show so as to let us know what would’ve happened if we dared to enter it

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