Ciudad Bolívar Chronicles: The Murder of Augusto Puga

Shocking violence in Ciudad Bolívar as police shoot tear gas and live rounds at medical students


Wednesday’s march in Ciudad Bolívar, which cost one life, will go down as one of the most shameful episodes in the current crisis. The day started with a planned march to our regional CNE office, in accordance with MUD’s National Strategy. 

But a day earlier, on Tuesday, 18 medical students had been arrested, and 10 of them —the men— were still being held. The 18 had been arrested in galling circumstances: they were actively trying to evacuate a protester wounded by the security forces minutes earleir when they were picked up. All afternoon, the security forces had been in breach of “university autonomy” — the rule barring regular security forces from University Campuses— and had gone into the decanato, the Dean’s Office, itself. In those circumstances, there was little chance of the focus on CNE sticking in Ciudad Bolívar.

Instead, protesters demanded freedom for the medical students who had become political prisoners just a day earlier. The political leaders at the front of the crowd kept trying to lead the crowd toward the CNE, but the march route took them near decanato, the site of those arrests a day earlier. Many protesters decided to stay, saying they “will not go to the CNE to hand letters to the politicians.”

The march leadership crumbled, and the radicals took over. Things got violent fast: the protesters blocked the street adjacent to the decanato and the security forces immediately turned up, shooting tear gas canisters and rubber pellets.

This is how much tear gas they used:

At about 2 p.m., the police apparently ran out of non-lethal ammunition and started shooting real bullets. The first-aid brigade (consisting mainly of medical students) had set up a space in a lecture hall to tend to the many wounded. They were soon overwhelmed with protesters who had suffered gunshot wounds.

One person I reached out to sent me this video, shot largely inside that lecture hall. It’s long, but I urge you to watch as much of it as you can. It’s simply staggering; a war zone:

The first aid brigade was not prepared at all to deal with that. They had just started the initiative and hadn’t received many donations yet. They barely had gloves. If you go to 3:10 in the video, you can see a guy trying to take a bullet out of someone’s leg using his fingers. 

The Police and GNB were not just trying to repress the protesters they got inside the decanato and kept shooting at the protesters who were seeking refuge in the building.

It’s at that point that Augusto Puga, a medical student, was shot in the head.

He didn’t die immediately. The medical volunteers struggled to figure out what to do. One group wanted to take him to the lecture hall. But they had to wait for the gunshots to stop first. When all the shooting stopped, they tried to grab him as fast as they could, but the police started shooting again. They were so scared that they accidentally dropped him and ended up dragging him to the room.

The police apparently ran out of non-lethal ammunition and started shooting with real bullets.

Go to minute 4:00 and see when they take Augusto to the lecture hall. They put him in the floor to try to save him. All they had was gauze. Some are afraid that the police will get in and finish the job, so they try to barricade themselves into the lecture hall using chairs (minute 9:12).

There’s a short truce. They take him into an ambulance. Students helping Augusto get arrested by the police. One of them even gets his cellphone stolen. They want to call someone to take him in a car, but the phones aren’t working and the GNB is not letting any car inside the building. They’re cut off.

The only thing they can do is beg the police to stop shooting, so they can take Augusto out. At the end of the video, some girls get down on their knees and scream “he is going to die” towards the police.

They still have to take care of the other wounded, but the truce has ended and the police is not standing down. They get on a rooftop and, with the help of some ladders, they manage to get all of the wounded out to a spot where a car is waiting to carry them off.

Augusto Puga was in the operating room for an hour. He did not survive.

That was Wednesday. Protests continued on Thursday, and spread throughout the city. Feelings are running high in Ciudad Bolívar, and it’s easy to see opposition leaders are losing control over the protesters.

Thursday’s protest was announced as a silent march in honor of Augusto.

Instead, it ended with people shouting “murderers” at the police station while taking down images of Chávez and of Governor Francisco Rangél Gómez.

se prendió

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  1. By any definition, this is civil war. When the so-called security forces start murdering their own citizens in cold blood, a line is crossed, where even life itself is less valuable then maintaining power – at all costs. My sense and hope is that such insanity will cause splintering within the security forces. Either way the money will soon run out and no military will keep fighting – or killing their own neighbors – for free. Perhaps the whole stinking mess has to totally melt down before the Phoenix can rise, but that video shows just how insane and ugly it can get in the meantime. Sad and horrific times.

  2. Venezuela is not one of the top 5 most violent – and most corrupt – countries on planet earth for no reason:
    Thousands and Thousands of the average people are ‘malandros’ crooks, thieves, murderers.

    Everywhere in the country. Not just the ‘paramiltares’, or the guardia GN or the corrupt poltcans. NO.

    Average population in the barrios, in Caracas, and every city. “El Pueblo”, itself is full of thugs.

    Why? The result of 18 years of Chavismo (plus the crap from before), lack of education, galactic corruption, no punishment for crimes,, total impunity.’

    Other factors include the abysmal economic crisis, of course, but the sheer destruction of most of a much healthier Social Fabric we once had is the main reason.

    Sure there are many good people left in Venezuela (those who can’t get the hell out yet), but a large portion of what is left s ROTTEN to the bone corrupt criminal.

    Not just the Chavista thugs – a big portion of the population participates on the stealing, looting, and violence.

    It’s what our “culture” s coming down to: Theft Corruption, violence, poor education, low or no moral values. Again, it’s not just the damn Chavistas in power the Pueblo is also sick,, by enlarge.

    • Epa poeta. Excellent post!!! So true. I hope that this will not end with changing one corrupt government for another. I really hope people will realize it is time to start throwing out the trash!!! The next regime will not only need to restore law and order but start taking out the malandros that have had their reign of terror for far too long. We are sick and tired of it and I hope Venezuelans will wake up to that fact. You can see it among the chamos out protesting and looking out for eachother rather than waiting for worthless “malandros en uniforme” to come solve our problems. Love watching videos of protesters beating the shit out of sapos, infiltrados and colectivos. We got to defend our own turf. Every last one of these scum need to be lynched to make Venezuela a good place to live.

      Their day of judgement is coming. The more repression, the more we come together against this madness. They cannot win. They are totally out-numbered and everybody hates their guts and will not stop protesting.

      If any one of them has a brain, they would know it is time to jump ship before the lynch mob comes for them (and the more violence and repression they throw at us, the greater the witch hunt will be once this regime falls). Again, time for the rats to jump ship before the hunters become the hunted.

  3. When this is over and a legitimate government takes control of the country, I hope everyone that has recorded images and videos on the their phones submits this evidence to enable the prosecution of as many of these murderers as possible.
    The offenders should be told that the day of reckoning is coming.
    Perhaps that will cause the security forces that have not yet tortured or murdered anyone to pause and reflect on the consequences of their decisions.
    Any messages to the governments oppressive henchmen that may cause a rift within their ranks would be a positive action. We may never know how many lives that saves.
    The people giving the orders have already sealed their fates. This may stop other from blindly following their orders.

  4. Poeta C. raises a good point. There are and probably never was two sides. It’s going to take some kind of leader to forge a reconciliation when so many people have been forced into such desperate positions.

  5. Al equipo de Caracas Chronicles:

    Si teneis alguna forma, alguna idea, algo, contactos, lo que sea, para que ayudemos desde fuera, por favor, haced un articulo con ello. Como podemos enviar ayuda, o colaborar.

    He visto el video casi completo y no puedo sentir mas que rabia, impotencia, y que le estoy fallando a esos chamos, y a todos los otros.

  6. It will take a lot of courage to forgive and forget the atrocities ….
    Cuidad Bolivar changed all of my life … it is an amazing place with great people , I have eaten the head of the Zapoara .. so much possibility .

  7. Is time to arm the opposition.
    No more turning the other cheek to these thugs.
    Maduro wont leave peacefully, and more murders will be committed.
    Repeat after me.
    Maduro wont leave peacefully, and more murders will be committed.
    It would be our fault if we don’t move and defend ourselves.

  8. This is a chronicle of murder pure and simple , absolutely unnecessary , absolutely unscrupulous……, to wantomly use bullets like that tells us that the regime is willing to bathe it self in innocent blood to keep it self in power , their egoes are so wound up in being all powerful that they cannot bear to lose it …..!! Ultimately the shedding of blood just keeps the protest going , if they really meant to stop the protests they would have to substitute violence with tolerance ….so what if people end up giving some paper to some official , instead they resort to violence because it makes them feel good , strong , ruthless , proud …..inflicting injuries and death on innocent people proves that they can do whatever they want and thus is a badge of their Power , arbitrary violence is the eponimous expression of power ….

    • John, I totally agree. But I will wager most CC participants would lecture you (and me) that the Iraqi invasion was a big mistake.

      • You think it wasn’t a mistake? It was radical Islams greatest victory. It created a while generation of radicals.

        Hell, even republican elders like George Will say it was one of the biggest foreign policy blunders in American history.

        • Yes. We sent Saddam to that special place, and that turned a whole generation of peace-loving Muslims into crazed killers.

          • Oh, yeah, if it wasn’t for the invasion of Iraq there would be no Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, Hezbollah, Hamas, Taliban, Lashkar-i-Janghvi, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Abu Sayyaf, MILF, Pattani Islamic Mujahideen Movement, Islamic Jihad, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, or al-Qaeda. Right? /snark

            (one assumes that post was sarcastic)_

    • I was completely opposed to the second Gulf War and the invasion of Iraq.
      Scott Ritter (chief UN arms inspector) traveled the country and tried to make people listen. He kept telling them that Iraq had no WMD’s and that we were going to war on a bunch of lies. The politicians refused to listen. The politicians that voted against the Iraq invasion were ridiculed. History has proved them right.
      The mishandling of the Arab Spring just made matters worse.
      Dictators are threatened by terrorists also.
      I never agreed with President Obama and Secretary Clinton’s decision to topple Assad.
      Assad may be a bad person. If the US were to grade on a curve compared to some of our “allies”, Assad would probably get a C+. The same can be said for Libya. Ghadaffi wasn’t the best. In fact he was a nut and had a history of supporting terror. His stance had moderated over time though. He was actively supplying intelligence to the UK regarding terrorist threats.
      I was no supporter of him, but the conditions that exist now are a breeding ground for terrorists.
      The mistakes of the last two US administrations have cost millions of lives and trillions of Dollars while the terror threat grows.

  9. Sadly, although I lived in a much happier Venezuela for twenty years, my daughters grew up there and miss it terribly plus my husband is still there hoping to make a difference at the university, the country had its problems of endemic corruption, lack of maintenence, lack of responsibility, crippling burocracy, appalling set ups in public hospitals and an indifference to the poor . This is not just in Venezuela but most developing countries. The country, however, gave the appearance of normality and life was good for a great number of people, but these were the select few.

    Chavez exploited this unequal society setting himself up as a populist leader, promising the earth to the masses of poor, uneducated people living in the barrios surrounding the city. He was quick to blame the bourgeoisie and the great ‘Imperio’ up north. Sixty percent of naive Venezuelans elected this man from a military background without thinking twice despite their own history of military dictatorships! My own view is that Chavez had an agenda which would ultimately lead to the setting up of a Cuban regime in the country. Every move he made clearly pointed to this. Nationalization, land grabs, visits to Cuba, largesse with oil to neighbouring islands, hours of nauseating propoganda on every channel, the closing down of media critical of his rule and so on. Venezuelans to my mind were incredibly “quedados” so long as they had their creature comforts, food, the beach, trips to Miami etc etc. After all this was just a new type of socialism, more advanced than anything in Europe or the UK. Chavez was revered by the likes of Ken Livingstone, J Corbyn, American film producers and many academics who wrote about his superb plan for the poor.

    I believe that Venezuelans, in some way, brought about the advent of Chavez because of their failure to address housing, education and health. It could easily have been addressed with the wealth from oil revenues over the years but the will was not there. At each change of government one hoped something would change, a real inroad made to tackle the squalor, to address the parlous state of public hospitals, to attempt to maintain roads, etc etc, but nothing happened.
    The beautiful and amazing modern centro comerciales and stunning apartments continued to be built, but just attempting to send a parcel, to receive mail, to fight the impossible traffic jams, to despair at the stinking Rio Guaire, to renew a cedula were difficulties that perhaps Venezuelans were accustomed to. I could see both sides of the problems.

    Now, however, the country has been reduced to a state of anarchy, levels of corruption not seen before and an entrenched, utterly boorish and idiotic president unwilling to step aside!

    What the future holds is fearful because even if it were possible to achieve change, that change has to be a change of mentality, a complete revision of values and attitudes, a sea change in what Venezuelans stand for.

  10. Patricia,

    Wonderfully well said, straight, to the point, and oh so true. I lived in
    Caracas in 70’s while Venezuela was being incubated for Chavez and
    the Cubans. Many tried to forewarn Carlos Andres Perez what a
    threat Cuba was, but alas. it fell on deaf ears. I have two prayers
    for the wonderful folks of Venezuela, may you follow the path of God
    to peace and renewed prosperity, and may God give you the
    courage to not repeat the mistakes of the past once you are
    again masters of your own destiny.


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