General Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz was true to her office. In the statements she made on Wednesday, she acknowledged 55 casualties (52 civilians and three police or military officers) and over 1,000 wounded (761 of them are protesters) in seven weeks of protests against Nicolás, remarking the excessive use of force applied by security forces and the involvement of civilian armed groups, against which the Prosecutor’s Office is carrying out at least 16 investigations. She revealed details on the case of student Juan Pernalete and showed a replica of the tear-gas canister that killed him, saying that they know which National Guard team was responsible for firing it, although they haven’t yet found the individual culprit, thus denying the Communication minister Ernesto Villegas’ bungled-up story, which the entire State media apparatus promoted as definitive. She restated that firing a tear-gas canister directly at a person is not only illegal, but deadly.
What else did she say?
The General Prosecutor criticized that deaths have been manipulated for the sake of propaganda, remarked that only the Prosecutor’s Office has the capacity to explain a crime, urging political actors to avoid speculations about the motives behind violent deaths, denounced the absence of security forces during looting sprees, associated protests to shortages of food and medicines, emphasized the importance of training and proper rest in order for security forces to do their jobs and strongly criticized doctored videos, lynchings and the criminalization of protesters. She also demanded politicians lower the tone of their discourse, and respect for the freedom to support any political ideology one may espouse.
Interior minister Néstor Reverol accused the Prosecutor’s Office of not acting properly concerning recent violent events that, in his view, have promoted a climate of impunity and hindered the adequate administration of justice, taking the opportinuty to praise State security forces once more, for “strictly complying with the Constitution and the Republic’s laws.”
Foreign minister Delcy Rodríguez said that Nicolás expanded the Truth Committee’s authority to deal with the current political violence, adding that it will establish the truth “efficiently and transparently” in each case, and submit a report to the as-yet-unelected Constituent Assembly. That’s how they’re trying to usurp the Prosecutor’s Office’s power. A special mention to Isaías Rodríguez’s sad involvement, as his best argument was speculating about the General Prosecutor’s emotional state and expressing his concern that she might’ve fallen into “anti-revolutionary networks.” I’ll spare you Pedro Carreño’s insults and Aristóbulo Istúriz’s irrelevant cynicism.
Augusto Puga, student at Universidad de Oriente (Ciudad Bolívar headquarters,) one of the three people wounded by the National Guard when they illegally broke into their campus, died last night. Puga had been shot in the forehead and, although they managed to get him to surgery, he didn’t make it. Others were wounded yesterday: Jean Mayora, shot in the hand (another three were wounded by gunshot); lawmakers José Brito and Juan Andrés Mejía were hit by tear-gas canisters on the knee and arm, respectively; several journalists were also hit by canisters.
In La Isabelica (Carabobo), a PNB ran over a 17-year old girl with his motorcycle.
Yesterday, the PNB and the GN used tear-gas (even forcing the evacuation of a school in Montalbán) rubber pellets (at least 20 people wounded between Baruta and Chacao) and live rounds, causing traumas, asphyxia, seizures and burns. Up until 6:00 p.m. the balance for both municipalities was 55 people wounded.
The 2014 loop
Wednesday was the TSJ’s turn to do what the CNE did on Tuesday: rub their subservience to the Executive Branch on our faces. The sanctioned justices of the Constitutional Chamber decided to recycle the model of lawsuits and constitutional amparos used in 2014 against mayors Daniel Ceballos (San Cristóbal) and Enzo Scarano (San Diego), to later remove and imprison them for not complying with their orders. This time, the ruling was issued against mayors of Chacao, El Hatillo, Baruta, Los Salias, Carrizal (Miranda) and, Alberto Adriani, Libertador and Campo Elías (Mérida), demanding that they ban the shutdown of public roads to avoid violating the rights of free transit, health, work and economic freedom. In fact, the Constitutional Chamber should demand the State guarantee citizen rights, not block them, but you see, the PSUV is desperate to demobilize protests.
A useless villain
Jorge Rodríguez, mayor of Libertador municipality, said yesterday that the opposition wants “elections without an electoral authority, or ballots, or votes,” comparing it to the Constituyente which, in his view, is a profound proposal for dialogue, an incoherent claim after which he said: “Who cares if MUD doesn’t participate in the Constituent Assembly? These are not party elections.” Surely, with the CNE’s latest decision, “all the violent right-wing’s questions” must’ve changed. He claimed that when there are no elections, PSUV improvises them. He said that violence is promoted by the opposition leadership because they’re never injured. It was a lousy attempt at supporting a Constituyente that not even they know how to defend.
Nicolás didn’t go to Ecuador for Lenín Moreno’s inauguration. The fact that he was branded persona non grata and wouldn’t get -like his peers- the key to the city of Quito, may have influenced his decision.
The OAS is still at odds on how to approach the conflict in Venezuela, considering that any decision will have to be supported by two thirds of the member states during the May 31st meeting. Recently, Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández demanded elections in Venezuela as a solution to the crisis and claimed that Honduras’ Chargé d’Affaires, called for consultation last week, will only return to Caracas once elections have been held.
Maybe the image that best sums up this sad day was violinist Wuilly Arteaga, crying while holding his instrument, broken by a National Guardsman. The imminent threat of art, of the nobility of a few chords, of a kid who protests not with a hood and stones, but with his best tool: music. Several people offered to buy him a new instrument and luthiers were willing to repair the broken one. Wuilly got all the solidarity a boy can get in a country as hurt as he is. PSUV only gets more loathsome and has shown its absolute incompetence to process the civil rebellion represented by the General Prosecutor’s statement, an open door for any chavistas who, interested in preserving el finado’s proposal, aren’t willing to stand by Nicolás in the absurdity of an imposed Constituyente.