Yesterday’s Paro Cívico Nacional ended at 6:00am this morning, and was anything but uneventful.

The National Prosecutor’s Office reports 2 dead in Miranda State: Ronney Eloy Tejera Soler, 24, and Eury Rafael Hurtado, 34, both dead from gunshot wounds in Los Teques; 1 dead in Carabobo State: José Uzcátegui Ávila, 23, reportedly form a gunshot wound, and 2 dead in Zulia State: Víctor Márquez, 34, in a fire at the Housing Ministry offices and a 15-year-old from gunshot wounds; as well as 261 protesters detained.

Source: Foro Penal

In Caracas, streets were empty save for protesters manning their barricades, and nighttime repression in western- and easternmost parts of the city (Palo Verde, Coche, El Valle, El Paraiso) kept citizens in panic until early hours of Friday.

Maduro did his best to report streets teeming with workers and booming businesses (never mind that traffic in Av. Baralt at that hour is usually nightmarish).

Maracay

Protests started early in Maracay in the Base Aragua neighborhood, located next to the state and local government buildings and one of the city’s usual protest spots. Neighbors started banging on pots and pans as early as 4 a.m.

Soon, they were assaulted by armed groups with at least one person wounded.

But later on, protesters started to congregate and it didn’t take long for the National Guard to charge in all their repressive glory.

Across town, main roads and avenues were empty with National Assembly deputy Melva Paredes reporting 94% of local businesses not opening yesterday. Most notably, Avenida Bolívar —the city’s main venue—, Avenida Fuerzas Aéreas, —which connects the south side of the city to Avenida Bolívar— and Avenida Bermúdez, the south side’s main commercial venue.

Some barricades set up by protesters were removed by GNB.

Besides Base Aragua, another residential area that has faced commotion is Urbanización del Centro and Las Acacias, each one bordering Avenida Bermúdez and Fuerzas Aéreas, respectively. This video shows the military retreating after being chased by neighbors of the community. 

There were reports that some protesters were detained by the National Guard in Las Acacias as well and in the nearby town of La Victoria.

Conflict escalated in the afternoon at the UCV campus of agronomy and veterinary studies, located on the western part of the city. Witnesses report that members of armed groups (colectivos) and the National Guard disrupted the installations, detaining four people and wounding one.

Elsewhere, main transit lines remained empty, regardless of whether they were barricaded or not.

Valencia

Valencianos reported empty streets, no public transportation, and very little traffic from early hours of the day:

Big Low (main bus terminal), 9:30 a.m.

Autopista del Este (our Francisco Fajardo), at 10:30 a.m. looked like it was New Year’s day:

The governor of Carabobo had a different version of yesterday’s events, and took to twitter to convince us that Valencianos had gone out to work en masse (when the pictures are actually of long lines outside a bank).

Later in the day, repression in La Isabelica community claimed the life of 23 year-old Andrés Uzcátegui from a gunshot wound, and 6 more were wounded, 2 in critical condition.

Puerto Ordaz

Repression in Puerto Ordaz, started early. In Mangokistán, National Guardsmen arrived at 5:00 am shooting tear gas canisters and removing barricades.

The neighbors tried to defend themselves but the guards got inside the buildings. There was at least two detained, Carlos Andrés Requena, a professor from the UGMA university, who was passing nearby, and Cesar López, one of the protesters.

In Villa Latina, a housing development close to Los Mangos, the guards entered destroying the gates with their tanquetas.

The city was partially paralyzed, with some businesses not being able to open, as the workers didn’t show up to work.

The chavista-run Mayor’s office threatened businesses that joined the strike with revoking their commercial licenses, but still, many areas of the city were completely empty.

At 6 pm there were still barricades spread throughout the city, specially all over the Av. Guarapiche and Atlántico. In Altavista, neigbours took to the streets banging empty pots:

There were also reports of armed paramilitary groups removing barricades in Isla Dorada, as reported by Carota Digital.

Mérida

The day started with a heavy rain and snowy mountains in Mérida, some thought it would preempt people from coming out early and block streets. They were wrong. As early as 5:00 am, fireworks announcing the start of the national strike could be heard. Less than hour later most major roads in the city got blocked by hooded protesters.

Most streets and major roads around the city remained completely empty since dawn, and a sense un unease could be felt all around the city. During a quick round through some residential areas no cars were to be seen around, and WhatsApps cadenas of doubtful origin threatened to burn any car seen on the streets.

That’s Las Americas Avenue, the major road in town and hotspot of most protests during the last three months, completely empty at peak hour. People living in the area have set up information networks made up of motorizados constantly patrolling the area waiting for the GNB to come and alert nearby protesters.

The situation was the same in pretty much every street around the city.

Stores also seem to have taken the call to a Paro Cívico Nacional seriously, as the usually overcrowded downtown of the city looked more an Abastos Bicentenario shelf.

Even big supermarkets and malls mostly remained closed yesterday:

Clashes between some protesters and State forces were reported earlier in the morning around some residential areas, with some people denouncing that a group of protesters had been abducted by GNB officers who breached an apartment complex in Las Americas Avenue.

Another fight took place between protesters and Police officers in nearby city of Ejido, and ended with a PoliMerida officer shot in the neck in still unclear circumstances.

At least 6 people have been reportedly detained in the city, 2 more were detained in the neighbouring town of San Rafael de Tabay, near the Páramo.

The strike was not only successful in the city of Mérida; but in most parts of the State, a confrontation between some protesters and PoliMérida units took place at 6:45 am in the small town of Santa Cruz de Mora, and a trash truck got hijacked in El Vigía as it tried to take its usual route.

Barquisimeto

The strike has been active all around Barquisimeto: East, West and Downtown. Public transportation has been absent from the streets and with the exception of the banks, most stores and shopping malls shut down for the day. Avenues and streets have been blocked:

Before noon yesterday, the zone known as El Cardenalito became a battleground between protesters and members of both the Lara State Police and National Guard. Heavy military presence was also noted in several parts of the city since early this morning.

There were reports of multiple detentions in Lara State, according to human rights NGOs Funpaz and Movimiento Vinotinto. Also, the Red Cross was present in the afternoon at El Cardenalito in order to tend to the over 80 wounded protesters. The repression continued until later in the evening, when a brief but intense battle took place near the Fundalara police station.

Many reported National Guard units breaking down gates of residential complexes in order to charge in and shoot tear gas into apartments.

17 COMMENTS

  1. I was in Lima in 1977 when there was a one-day strike announced against the military regime. The streets were empty. Empty. The next day the front page of a Lima newspaper showed a photo of a pickup truck filled with passengers in the rear: “Workers traveling to their jobs in defiance of the strike.” Judging by how empty the streets were, I wonder if that were a staged photo.

  2. Great run-down. From my recent ANC comment, the nearby voting points have not yet been activated, since the voting machines have not yet arrived (FT saved, so far, by the bell?). Public/privately-owned bus transport is once again spotty/not operating–owners don’t want to risk their buses (a Govt. brand-new Chinese Yutong bus-offering free public transport-is stopped near Caracas with all windows broken out by barrio-thrown rocks); the national private bus owners union will not provide service for an “indefinite period” if the ANC goes through, even though at one of their parking lots in Caracas yesterday Govt. tow trucks hauled/confiscated their parked/stopped buses (bought with Govt. bank credit). General “paros”/strikes do work, and one was the gota que rebaso el vaso for Allende.

  3. It is bad but this is what it takes, and it is less horrible than the alternatives. To me, this is incredible and a hopeful sign. Venezuela needs to take a deep breath, and then do this again. And again. Closer together each time. As the contractions get closer together, the regime will have no choice but to negotiate its exit. When people put getting rid of the regime before their immediate material interest, the regime is dead.

    Don’t let the militaries or the gringos get a piece of this…it can be done without them.

    • A piece of what?–a savaged/wrecked/indebted country with terrible internal lack-of-security problems and a long-since-abandoned embryonic work ethic?–Oh, yes, I forgot, “Venezuela es un pais rico”. The U.S. will only enter if there is no other alternative (blood in the streets/even grosser human rights abuses/to stop the spread of Castro-Communism/terrorism to neighboring countries-the rest of SA,), but not to “colonize” or take advantage of Venezuela’s cluster-fuck own-making situation.

      • With the clown Trump leading the Washington Circus or without him, the USA is not entering Venezuela. Don’t believe Rubio and Menedez; they are tilting at windmills to gin up their base voters. The American public has zero interest in a military adventure in South America. Most people here have no idea, none, as to the situation in Venezuela. Most couldn’t find it on a map. A few of us who actually have friends or family in Venezuela are deeply concerned, but any inference that the USA is going to send forces to Venezuela is far off the mark. The plan to rid Cuba of the Castros is to promote small business and tourism, the ravings of Trump and his ilk notwithstanding. If in the near term, there is some resolution internally in Venezuela, you can expect aid to be sent, not soldiers.

        • The “American public zero interest” would be the same/less as when Noriega was taken out/Grenada invaded–the U. S. strategic long-term Hemispheric geo-political-security interest, by many magnitudes greater in the Venezuelan case than any since the failed Cuban Bay Of Pigs invasion, will dictate taking out the Ven. Castro-Communist regime by force, as a last resort, if economic sanctions/Venezuelan opposition are unable to topple the Regime.

          • Not going to happen. There is not even support for an oil embargo. A military adventure is out of the question. Try again.

    • Not to worry, Canuck. Yesterday you told us that if Trump ever did anything significant about Venezuela, you would eat your Jays hat.

      • The hour of fake leaders and opportunists has arrived. Your country doesn’t need them. It can do the heavy lifting.

  4. For some numbers on the economy, courtesy of Bloomberg.Venezuela’s Perfect Storm for Oil May Be About to Break.
    Venezuela’s economy is in free-fall: By the end of this year, it will have shrunk by 32 percent compared to where it was at the end of 2013, according to International Monetary Fund forecasts.
    That would be a drop in per capita income since 2013 of about 35%. [An estimated 5% growth in population from 2013 to 2017: (1-(.68/1.05)) ]

    Bonds:
    Venezuelan bonds, which haven’t looked rock-solid for a few years, crashed this week ….Venezuelan bonds have crashed to distressed levels, with five-year debt yielding 36 percent

    Not that one needed these numbers to know the economic situation was bad, however.

    • Thank you for Bloombergs’ article. Interesting analogy comparing the economy of Iran (who was hard it by sanctions) with Venezuelas’. We are nowhere near as well prepared to withstand sanctions. Iran produces most of their own food (90% self sufficient on basic agricultural goods). Iran also has an important industrial base and a good number of well prepared professionals.

      The regime stresses that we have “Patria”…

  5. As I watched chavez TV yesterday morning, they showed scenes of passengers arriving at the subway on their way to work. At the time it looked staged. I’m now convinced it was, sort of like so many chavista gatherings we see these days with the speaker screaming tired socialist slogans and the group gathered behind trying to look pumped as the chant about the revolution.

    This thing is soon to grind to a halt and one by one they seem to be becoming aware that the end is near.

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