That’s how Venezuelan opposition reacts to Plan Zamora, by asking citizens to gather today at the same rallying spots as on April 19th, to march again to the Ombudsman’s Office once more. Governor Henrique Capriles said that they don’t have an exact figure of people wounded and arrested on Wednesday, but he confirmed two deaths: Carlos José Moreno, shot in Plaza La Estrella, San Bernardino, a boy who was studying first semester of Economics in the Central University and would’ve been 18 on Saturday; and Paola Gómez (24), murdered in Plaza de Las Palomas, San Cristóbal. Both were killed by headshots.
“We faced down Plan Zamora with Plan Constitution” Capriles said several times, ratifying the opposition’s demands: calling for elections, opening a humanitarian channel, respect for the National Assembly and the release of political prisoners.
El Aissami’s version
According to the vice-president, opposition leaders want to paint Venezuela as a country in chaos to justify a foreign intervention, and they’ve also pushed the rest of the opposition toward “fascist violence.” He claimed that peace and the Constitution triumphed this April 19th, that they neutralized violent plans thanks “to a pueblo hanging on to democracy” and denounced Julio Borges for allegedly issuing a message of violence, hatred and intolerance, also discrediting Henrique Capriles’ “irresponsible and low” accusations of government repression and said that he’ll have to present evidence to support those accusations. He dared to talk about the opposition’s “brewing hatred” even as the PSUV launched their own hate campaign: “Render unto the Guaire the things that are the Guaire’s,” mocking dissidents who had to use river Guaire to flee from repression. This message was retweeted by Nicolás himself.
The mother of all marches
Once again, we were indiscriminately attacked with tear gas, but the Francisco Fajardo highway was brimming, complicating both defense and retreat. All of the regime’s obstacles (the metro shutdown, the blocked roads, the repression and the wall around Libertador municipality) couldn’t suppress attendance, even though repression came quite early, with paramilitary groups —colectivos— the National Police and the National Guard, working in unison: I witnessed the PNB casually allowing civilians to throw stones against protesters.
Several of the 26 rallying spots were cancelled and many journalists were harassed and attacked (check out NGO Espacio Público’s figures.) Many opposition protesters had to flee through the Guaire due to the sheer volume of tear gas used against them in the highway. Carmelina Carrillo and Andrés Guinand suffered head injuries after being hit with blunt objects. NGO Foro Penal says there were 400 people arrested nationwide, and they also counted 57 wounded.
Three million public employees
Nicolás said the opposition were golpistas, terrorists, murderers, mercenaries, maricos (as in cowardly,) Pharisees, clowns and charlatans, but he wants to negotiate with them. That’s why he appointed Elías Jaua and siblings Jorge and Delcy Rodríguez as representatives and José Vicente Rangel and Hermánn Escarrá as advisors for a new invitation where he’ll tell them “their truths again” and ask them to abandon “their violence and their golpismo.” Nicolás fakes joy as bad as he fakes anger, that’s why he claimed that they managed to gather three million people —like the alleged 11 million travellers in Holy Week— and yelled: “I want to win this battle now! I want us to be ready for an electoral victory! I want elections soon!”, but remarking that the National Electoral Council is independent, so this will only happen whenever Tibisay Lucena wants, and not as the Constitution demands.
He also claimed there are no judicial reasons for the Citizen Branch to start proceedings against Supreme Tribunal justices, that he managed to capture the terrorist known as “El Jefferson,” who had already confessed that lawmaker Richard Blanco is his boss, and claiming that “we’re in a neverending April 13th,” he urged the people to remain on the street for him. The joke writes itself.
General Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz issued a communiqué via Twitter where she offered the Prosecutor’s Office’s assistance in processing complaints to determine responsibilities in view of any abuses committed by security forces during protests, saying that State institutions must guarantee peaceful protest, citing constitutional rights, the use of negotiation before exercising public force and mentioning the word “citizenry”.
We’re overflowing with evidence of Human Rights violations, but she wants people to file formal complaints. Her words were obviously ignored by the regime.
Only Nicaragua and Bolivia supported Venezuela’s position before the OAS Permanent Council, claiming that the session on April 3rd was invalid. Venezuela representative Samuel Moncada said that the OAS “is being used as a command room to incite violence in Venezuela and the secretary general and member countries are part of that scheme,” denying that there’s a severe breakdown of democratic order in the country.
Moncada faced off with several ambassadors — U.S. and Mexico were his favorites yesterday even though Canada, Chile, Peru and Colombia also condemned turning the Bolivarina Militia into 500,000 armed civilians. Moncada didn’t specify the measures that he’ll take to keep “fighting” against the OAS and denied the possibility that Venezuela leaves the institution. The presidents of Panama and Argentina, the OAS Secretary General and the Colombian Foreign minister also expressed concern for Venezuela’s crisis.
The U.S. response
Right as it’s revealed that Venezuela donated half a million dollars for Donald Trump’s inauguration —double what Google, Ford Motor and PepsiCo donated— State Secretary Rex Tillerson said that the Venezuelan government is violating its own Constitution and isn’t allowing “dissident voices to be heard.” Additionally, U.S. representative before the OAS, Kevin Sullivan, rejected Nicolás’ unfounded accusation that his country is promoting a coup d’État in Venezuela: “Nothing would be further from reality, it is not something we have done or would do,” he said.
Whether the two people murdered on Wednesday were protesting or not is irrelevant, because the government’s fully responsible for repression and crime. It’s absurd to say that someone “wasn’t protesting” when they were murdered, as though that makes the crime any better or somehow justifies repression against protesters. Let’s mind our words.
At 10:50 p.m., El Aissami reported the murder of National Guard sergeant Clemente Barrios and said that colonel Juan Carlos Arias has been wounded. He also announced that the Bs.100 banknote will remain valid until May 10th.
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