Táchira under fire

Your daily briefing for Tuesday, May 16, 2017. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Luis Alfonso Alviarez, a 17-year old boy, was shot in the chest and killed during a protest in Palmira. The Prosecutor’s Office reported that Prosecutor 4 of Táchira has already been appointed to investigate the death. In Capacho, Diego Hernández Barón (32) was also murdered with a shot in the chest. For young Acción Democrática leader Wilmer Arévalo, shot and wounded in the head, the story’s different; he undertook an emergency intervention and is now stable, but requires Cefadroxil and Sultamicillin. In San Cristóbal, councilmember Vincenzo Palotini was superficially wounded by a gunshot. Journalists report that there are at least 25 people wounded with rubber bullets in Capacho and in Colón, Ornelys Salas reports several people wounded in the face for the same reason. Lawmaker Juan Requesens made governor José Vielma Mora personally responsible for this mess in Táchira state: “You sent your goons to murder our people and justice will condemn you for it,” he wrote on Twitter.

San Cristóbal Mayor Patricia de Ceballos’s tweet wrapped up the most disastrous events in the state:

Repression, as usual

Unlike the experience we had in the Francisco Fajardo highway while resisting the 12 hours proposed for this non-violent protests, El Paraíso neighbors suffered the attack of armed civilians throughout the day, as they fired even before people left their homes, preceding tear gas, the siege in a uniform.

The same calamity struck in Carabobo, Cojedes, Lara, Mérida, Nueva Esparta and, of course, Táchira, leaving people wounded and arrested, and causing general destruction in the area. Three people were run down in the Barquisimeto-Cabudare freeway. There were seven people wounded and 19 arrested in Valencia, under repression from Policarabobo and National Guard officers. Additionally, Nueva Esparta lawmaker Yanet Fermín was arrested at noon in violation of her parliamentary immunity, taken to command center 76 of the National Guard, an event that inspired condemnation even from OAS head Luis Almagro. She was released hours later. By 4:30 p.m., Foro Penal collected reports of 30 arrests this Monday.

Bye-bye Luisa?

Governor Henrique Capriles denounced that a meeting was held on May 10th, attended by Armed Forces representatives, Nicolás, Elías Jaua and law scholar Hermann Escarrá, where they discussed the removal of General Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz. Capriles said that the meeting was held in secret to force the military body to join the constituent process and claimed that the complaint came from Armed Forces officers. Allegedly, Defense minister Vladimir Padrino López said he was loyal to the president and urged the military to obey him, violating article 328 of the Constitution which establishes that the FAN owes no allegiance to any political party or individual. Escarrá said that he would’ve already established a state of commotion to stop protests on their tracks and Jaua offered a strategic balance.

High rank cynicism 

Once again, Interior minister Néstor Reverol spoke as a militant instead of a public authority. While official harassment still raged in El Paraíso, Barquisimeto and Colón, Reverol said: “The country is at peace.” Once more, he dedicated more time to the wounded Policarabobo officers that to the civilians murdered, and claimed that the former were attacked by snipers, that Voluntad Popular and Primero Justicia leaderships caused destruction and terrorist actions in Caracas, that AN Speaker Julio Borges promotes violence in the country and that “Venezuelans close ranks in civilian-military union against violence.”

That must be why Freddy Bernal said that Julio Borges will be tried for treason “sooner or later,” beside claiming that the FAN has undergone a depuration process and now “its grassroots are revolutionary and chavistas.”


Spanish police announced that 2.4 tons of cocaine were confiscated in a Venezuelan fishing boat, and seven countrymen were arrested. Sadly, that’s the only product Venezuela does export now.

Yesterday, the OAS voted to call for a consultation meeting with Foreign ministers regarding Venezuela’s situation, set for May 18th. 18 members voted in favor, one against, 13 abstained and two were absent.

Interestingly enough, the only vote against was Nicaragua’s while Bolivia and Ecuador decided to abstain. Costa Rica did the same, as they didn’t agree that the meeting was scheduled for so late.

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, said that Venezuela’s situation is of great concern for the EU and affects not only Venezuelans but also European citizens, and so she’s talking with her partners in the region. On Monday, the European Union’s Foreign ministers also urged Venezuela to investigate all violent incidents, as well as release all political prisoners and respect constitutional rights: “Violence and the use of force won’t solve the country’s crisis. The Venezuelan people’s fundamental rights must be respected, including the right to peaceful protest,” they pointed out in their resolution. They also demanded the establishment of an electoral timetable and respect for the constitutional rights of all political actors to vote and participate in elections.

What’s next?

Today, Tuesday 16th, the National Assembly will hold session with social sectors.


On Wednesday 17th, protests continue with a Night March called for 5:00 p.m. in Caracas, rallying at Parque del Este and La Villa in Montalbán: “We’ll light the skies with candles, light will break through darkness in Venezuela,” said Freddy Guevara, adding that there will also be street protest on Thursday 18th and Sunday 21th, and details will be revealed in the next few days.

The Night March has sparked criticism due to the few guarantees it offers, the possibility that anything could happen in the dark and people might not be able to record it.

As I returned home yesterday, exhilarated by my experience throughout the day, I was shocked to see the disaster other Venezuelans had to live. 12 hours dedicated on thinking about democracy, on seeing people focused on their own reasons to be there. There have 45 days of ongoing protests and the government seems bent on breaking that record in murders. People are tired, repression’s fulfilling its purpose but the entire country makes sure to update our drive: power outages, rationed water, worsening shortages. Non-violence is much more effective and Nicolás can’t create incentives for his people, but we certainly can legitimate our own in this long race for freedom, in this resistance. 45 days and counting.

Naky Soto

Naky gets called Naibet at home and at the bank. She coordinates training programs for an NGO. She collects moments and turns them into words. She has more stories than freckles.