Yesterday, Wednesday, May 10th, during the march named “Our Shield is the Constitution,” Miguel Castillo Bracho (26) was murdered in Las Mercedes, shot in the left side of his thorax with a lead pellet. He was rushed to Las Mercedes Polyclinic but he died on the way. The autopsy will be carried out by a special team from the Prosecutor’s Office. Anderson Dugarte (32), shot in the head on May 8th in Mérida, also died on Wednesday. Mayor Ramón Muchacho reported that Salud Chacao tended 93 people wounded during protests, most of them for traumas, five were injured by rubber bullets and 12 choked on tear-gas.
— RAMÓN MUCHACHO (@ramonmuchacho) May 10, 2017
PNB vs. Paramilitaries
El Nacional released an important photographic summary that proves the presence of paramilitary armed groups (colectivos) operating in La Candelaria, one of them was even wearing a bulletproof vest from the Interior Ministry.
Additionally, PNB chief, general Carlos Pérez Ampueda, condemned the actions of paramilitaries who shot against protesters who had rallied in San Bernardino and said: “You saw how we were the first to step between you and those bandits when they arrived, protecting your lives, even though we don’t have the means to fight them off, because we’re using peaceful methods, because you’re being peaceful (…) What are we supposed to do, mate, if they come shooting and we don’t have guns?”. In a single statement, Pérez Ampueda admitted the existence of paramilitary groups, that they’re better armed than the PNB, that opposition protests are peaceful and that paramilitaries must be stopped.
Interior minister Néstor Reverol confirmed the deaths of Miguel Castillo Bracho and Anderson Dugarte, claiming that the latter was murdered by a “sniper hired by the MUD.” He also blamed National Assembly Speaker Julio Borges for murders during protests and for his call “to violence, hate and all the actions of the terrorist right-wing that have taken place in recent days.” All of these claims without a single piece of evidence.
None-budsman Tarek William Saab used Twitter to request the Prosecutor’s Office and the CICPC to press on with their investigations “to stop snipers and gunmen that have criminally infiltrated protests to kill people, perverting the marches and sending the nation into mourning,” adding that there’s a systematic use of professional gunmen and snipers.
Saying that marches are being perverted is admitting that they’re not violent. The Prosecutor’s Office is yet to find the culprits and yet, Saab claims that these are professional killers, a rather clumsy way to try and exculpate the State and to avoid demanding a transparent investigation on these murders, condemning the regime’s systematic Human Rights violations and demanding an end to attacks against protesters.
The opposition’s response
While denouncing the National Guard’s brutal repression against protesters, lawmaker Delsa Solórzano said: “Minister Néstor Reverol, you sir are responsible for deaths in Venezuela. You’ve become, and I take full responsibility for what I’m about to say, a murderous minister,” arguing that it’s Reverol who orders repression and calling him to stand by the Constitution and put weapons aside. Solórzano summed up the words of PNB chief Ampueda and accused paramilitary groups of attacking journalists while they’re covering protests, as well as stealing their work equipment. She also denounced the arrest of physician Sergio Contreras “simply for holding a speaker.”
That must be why Elías Jaua said that the Government isn’t exercising violence by rather “exercising and guaranteeing the government’s right to peace.” Anarchy is their peace.
Propaganda vs. reality
Joel García, defense lawyer for Fermín Cocchioni Castillo, the man accused on Tuesday by vice-president Tareck El Aissami of leading violent groups, explained yesterday that Cocchioni was illegally arrested in Colinas de Bello Monte, that he was victim of a three-day forced disappearance and tortured in DGCIM’s headquarters to force him to “confess” his crimes and also blame opposition leaders for sponsoring violent protests. It’s not the first case in which lawyers denounce the obtention of confessions through torture, a practice that violates constitutional rights, Venezuelan laws and international agreements. In addition to this barbarity, the government released a fake version of Cocchioni’s account on social networks, discrediting him and once again violating his Human Rights. Also yesterday, at least 30 protesters were arrested in Valencia.
The OAS Permanent Council agreed on Wednesday to call for an extraordinary session on Monday, May 15th, to establish the date in which foreign ministers will discuss Venezuela’s situation. Suriname, Antigua and Barbados, Grenada and Guyana placed their bets on the dialogue that hasn’t happened. Delcy assumed this postponement as a victory. Uruguay’s government expressed concern for the radicalization of political conflict in Venezuela and the social drama we’re experiencing, but without condemning the government outright, according to foreign minister Rodolfo Nín Novoa, because all diplomatic options must be exhausted first. Or perhaps more Venezuelans need to die.
This was also a tough day. Repression escalates even more shamelessly and paramilitary groups are sent to assail us while the regime “condemns” them. Exhausted by resisting. The alternative is submission, chavismo’s most recent goal.
Reading the epidemiological bulletin released on Monday is ratifying the gaping vulnerabilities of our healthcare system. Reviewing Caritas’ work is understanding how badly and extensively severe and chronic malnutrition increases in the country.
If chavismo isn’t point-blank firing tear-gas and rubber bullets at us, they’re crushing us with food and medicine shortages. There’s no way to return to normality without regime change. The imposition of Nicolás’ Constituyente only promises more deaths.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.