Photo: Efecto Cocuyo
287 people wounded (59 of them by gunfire, according to Foro Penal), over 50 detainees (according to the National Assembly) and at least 14 people murdered is the balance left from a day marked by the violence of the Armed Forces and paramilitaries (colectivos), who fired even against a hospital in Santa Elena de Uairen. In Ureña, they went as far as to arrest Civil Protection officers who were tending to the wounded.
#ÚLTIMOMINUTO | 26 funcionarios de Protección Civil Táchira, incluido el director Jaiberth Zambrano, fueron detenidos en Ureña y San Antonio cuando prestaban servicio de asistencia a los heridos. 5:40pm #23Feb
— Christopher Abreu (@AbreuReport) February 23, 2019
GRAVE cuánto ocurre en el hospital de #StaElenaDeUairen varios muertos,muchos heridos y las tanquetas de la GN disparan contra los ciudadanos que se encuentran en el centro asistencial
— Americo De Grazia (@AmericoDeGrazia) February 23, 2019
In Santa Elena de Uairen, besides the wounded and the four murders, they even suffered a blackout. The testimony of a young man at the Simón Bolívar bridge sums up a key idea: “There’s a blockade to buy food and medicines, but they do have money to buy tear gas, pellets and bullets.”
#23Feb A esta hora (5:40pm) han atendido a 24 personas (en su mayoría con heridas por armas de fuego) en el hospital de Santa Elena de Uairén.
Cuatro (4) fallecieron:
– José Fernández (40)
– Emir Barreto (26)
– José Hernández (24)
– Uno sin identificar pic.twitter.com/754mNxJNx7
— Germán Dam (@GEDV86) February 23, 2019
Santa Elena de Uairen sin electricidad, el Sebin reprimiendo en el hotel donde están los diputados y en el hospital. Y sin embargo, los peñones aún tienes retenidos a los militares, incluidos generales, que capturaron
— maria eugenia este (@meste48) February 24, 2019
The ship that sailed from Puerto Rico with humanitarian aid received direct threats of fire by the Venezuelan military which forced them to change course, and two trucks with humanitarian aid were burned down at the Francisco de Paula Santander bridge by National Police officers.
ALERTA: Barco con Ayuda Humanitaria, proveniente de Puerto Rico, recibe amenaza de fuego por parte de una fragata de la Armada.
Esta embarcación trae más de 200 toneladas de Ayuda Humanitaria, su tripulación es civil y su único propósito es llegar a Venezuela para salvar vidas pic.twitter.com/hWWr4OypWN
— Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) February 23, 2019
Despite the danger, there were volunteers who helped save the supplies and medicines on those trucks, how brave the people at the border has been! so much so, that many accompanied each soldier who decided to defend the Constitution to cross to Colombian territory.
Voluntarios tratan de salvar carga de ayuda humanitaria incinerada por la Guardia Bolivariana#TvcucutaNews #cucuta #tienditas #ayudasHumanitaria #venezuela #AyudaVenezuela #colombia #guaido #maduro #frontera #23feb #tvcucuta #tienditas #gnb #guardia #ejercito #envivo pic.twitter.com/vV2nLoGidq
— Tvcúcuta.com (@TvcucutaC) February 23, 2019
Actualización 6pm (Colombia): 61 miembros de las fuerzas de seguridad del Estado venezolano huyeron hoy de Venezuela por la frontera con Colombia. La mayoría son miembros de la GNB, otros de la Armada, Ejército, PNB y FAES pic.twitter.com/sqd12NYgp5
— Raylí Luján (@RayliLujan) February 23, 2019
Dancing to indifference
Ignoring all the violence that he ordered against citizens and unconcerned by the serious balances that were well known by the time of his speech. Nicolás announced that he broke all sorts of political and diplomatic relations with Colombia and set a 24-hour deadline for Colombian officials to leave the country: “Get out of here, oligarchs! Out with the oligarchs, enough already!”. In his narrative, Colombia has offered its territory to plan an alleged attack against him, that’s why he said that President Iván Duque is the devil, not without explaining that “his face is like a little angel’s (…) I’d squeeze those cheeks.” Nicolás once again challenged caretaker President Juan Guaidó to call for elections, opening the way for all the diplomacy that demands not to escalate violence, which is, however, only exercised by the offering usurper; yesterday, he threatened to imprison any Venezuelans who protest and confront his security forces to try and get the humanitarian aid into the country: “Come to jail, any rioter on the street will be jailed!”, he said before claiming that he’s already getting ready for the carnivals, before dancing with Cilia the mute, fulfilling his ritual of disregarding the deaths that he orders while he moves his fat and sweats his mustache.
Courage at the border
Last night, caretaker President Juan Guaidó said: “Today you’ve seen the worst face of a regime. Today the world saw for hours the worst face of the dictatorship.” Guaidó explained the members of the Armed Forces that they owe no loyalty to someone who burns food before the hunger, that they don’t owe obedience “to someone who sadistically celebrates that humanitarian aid is blocked from a country that needs it,” adding that Nicolás has taken the worst path: crime and extermination by action or omission. He also explained the “sad faces” mocked by several chavista spokespeople like Diosdado Cabello and Jorge Rodríguez, and asked them: “Do you celebrate the death of Venezuelans?”. Guaidó asked the coalition of nations that support him to keep all cards on the tale and a announced that he’ll attend the Lima Group meeting on Monday. “The change is irreversible,” he said and added that yesterday, the lie about the military invasion was laid bare. Yesterday’s events clearly show who believes in violence, who exercises it in cold blood and who enjoys it.
Violence is censorship
The National Union of Press Workers (SNTP) and the NGO Espacio Público made an important coverage of all attacks suffered this Saturday by journalists, photographers an cameramen, which ranged from attacks against the hotels where they were staying, going through stolen equipment and belongings, threats, harassment and coercion, to erasing the recorded material, to even gunfire. The attacks were committed by State security officers and by paramilitaries, the latter of which with the most disproportionate use of firearms. There are journalists wounded by pellets and other projectiles; some suffered asphyxia (like most protesters) due to the effect of tear gas; and Swedish journalist Annika H. Rothstein was detained by paramilitaries, who stole her equipment, beat her and threatened to kill her. The released her after two hours. Also, CANTV blocked the webpage of El Tiempo de Bogota and Conatel blocked TV stations.
Today I had a taste of what Venezuelans have gone through for over two decades and it was terrifying and humiliating and I hopeif nothing else these tweets can help the world see what Venezuela is suffering under and in some small way contribute to an opening of eyes.
— Annika H Rothstein (@truthandfiction) February 24, 2019
Movements on the board
U.S. security advisor John Bolton said: “Masked thugs, civilians killed by live rounds, and the burning of trucks carrying badly-needed food and medicine. This has been Maduro’s response to peaceful efforts to help Venezuelans. Countries that still recognize Maduro should take note of what they are endorsing,” adding that the actions of the Armed Forces to incite violence against peaceful civilians won’t be forgotten.
Any actions by the Venezuelan military to condone or instigate violence against peaceful civilians at the Colombian and Brazilian borders will not be forgotten. Leaders still have time to make the right choice.
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) February 20, 2019
Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo explained they’re making preparations for the entire diplomatic staff of his country to return as soon as possible, after Nicolás’ expulsion, also making him responsible for any attack of disregard for their officials’ rights.
— Cancillería Colombia (@CancilleriaCol) February 23, 2019
Col. Jacaúna, chief of operations of the Brazilian Army in Pacaraima, said that Venezuelan soldiers invaded their territory, saying that the government will take diplomatic measures.
Coronel Jacaúna, chefe de operações do Exército em Pacaraima, disse que militares venezuelanos invadiram o território que tecnicamente é do Brasil, na divisa. Considerou uma “agressão” e defende que o governo tome “medidas diplomáticas”.
— Matheus Schuch (@MatheusSchuch) February 23, 2019
Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela said that Nicolás’ attitude is reminiscent of Noriega’s last days. “This time, international pressure must increase to achieve a peaceful, democratic and Venezuelan solution,” he wrote, also expressing his support for Juan Guaidó.
La actitud de Nicolás Maduro nos recuerda los últimos días de Noriega. Esta vez, la presión internacional debe imponerse para que se logre una salida pacífica, democrática y venezolana. Nuestro total respaldo al Presidente interino @jguaido y al pueblo venezolano.
— Juan Carlos Varela (@JC_Varela) February 23, 2019
The Peruvian government expressed its utter condemnation for the blockade against the access of humanitarian aid as well as for the violent repression and attacks against human rights. Chilean President Sebastián Piñera said that “humanitarian aid partially managed to cross into the country, and it was very necessary; not all the aid got in, and that’s painful,” saying later that the fight continues. Argentina’s Mauricio Macri renewed his support for Guaidó and for “the National Assembly’s efforts to accomplish the arrival of necessary food and medicines to alleviate the suffering that Maduro has imposed on his own people.”
Una vez más renuevo el apoyo de Argentina al presidente encargado Juan Guaidó y a los esfuerzos de la Asamblea Nacional para lograr que lleguen los alimentos y las medicinas tan necesarios para aliviar el sufrimiento que Maduro ha impuesto sobre su propio pueblo
— Mauricio Macri (@mauriciomacri) February 24, 2019
Last night, Colombian President Iván Duque joined the statements made by Guaidó and OAS chief Luis Almagro, and said: “The dictatorship in Venezuela might appeal to violence to prevent the arrival of humanitarian aid, but today, they’ve sealed their moral defeat, their diplomatic defeat.”
#Cúcuta La dictadura en Venezuela podrá apelar a la violencia para evitar que llegue la ayuda humanitaria, pero hoy ha sellado su derrota moral, su derrota diplomática. Y ha quedado claro para el mundo que por más violencia que intente, Venezuela recuperará su libertad. pic.twitter.com/mDzbO4AVdy
— Iván Duque (@IvanDuque) February 24, 2019
Nicolás insists on the possibility of living a military confrontation that will turn him into a victim, that will clean his broad slate as a victimizer, the same one who savagely increased yesterday. It’s another vile gamble that we’ll pay in lives, in the lives of the most vulnerable, children, people with malnutrition and patients without medicines. We must remain steady and balance our expectations. It’s only been a month since Juan Guaidó took his oath of office (although it feels like a year) and with the possibility that such a dark day could erase what we’ve accomplished, let’s not fall into despair; the epic has been ours and that’s why chavismo hasn’t stopped making serious mistakes, including the cruel murder of unarmed citizens. Let’s honor our dead and hold on to our goals.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.