Venezuela in Chaos

Photo: Efecto Cocuyo

Early this morning, caretaker President Juan Guaidó announced from La Carlota airbase the start of a peaceful rebellion, accompanied by Leopoldo López, a group of soldiers and civilians. NGO PROVEA reported protests in 65 cities across 23 states to support the uprising, amidst fierce information blockades including serious problems in mobile service; blocked websites; the removal of international TV channels BBC and CNN from the grid and the shutdown of the oldest radio station in Venezuela: Radio Caracas Radio. Open-signal stations such as Venevisión, Televen, Globovisión and TVes didn’t report anything about the uprising or the balance of repression, and most radio stations are so careful of what they say that they never say what matters.

Ramming

Since its failed coups in 1992, chavismo has used armored vehicles to charge ahead, to roll over Venezuelan democracy. Today, the National Guard used these tactical vehicles to repress citizens with tear gas as they protested at the Francisco Fajardo Freeway, but one of them was used to intentionally trample over a group of citizens near La Carlota.

Later, another one did the same in Altamira and from Inavi buildings and the Supreme Tribunal’s Executive Directorate headquarters in Chacao, paramilitaries (colectivos) fired upon demonstrators at the Francisco de Miranda Ave. The same happened in Caricuao and La Candelaria.

The tear gas didn’t stop and by 5:30 p.m., Salud Chacao reported over 70 people wounded, including two people with gunshots, as well as citizens with asphyxia, traumas and rubber pellet injuries. We’ll have to wait for regional reports tonight to get an updated balance of citizens wounded and arrested during protests.

Guaidó’s message

Juan Guaidó said that Nicolás “doesn’t have the entire Armed Forces backing him,” that he didn’t expect a confrontation between Venezuelans, but rather that the military family would join the country’s peaceful transition towards democratic change: “We’re in every street in Venezuelan demanding the end of usurpation, exercising our majority. We have international recognition,” he said. In many interviews, he’s said that he wants peaceful transition without confrontation. “We’re going to resist and we’re to achieve the end of usurpation. Our protest is and will always be peaceful, and also in compliance with the Constitution (…) Maduro doesn’t have the National Armed Forces or popular support in the streets. I have no doubt that democracy will return in Venezuela,” said Guaidó.

Chavismo’s message

A message on his Twitter account is all that Nicolás has said in such a day. He said: “Nerves of steel! I’ve talked to commanders of all the country’s Redi and Zodi, who have pledged their total loyalty to the people, to the Constitution and the country. I call for the largest popular mobilization to secure victory and peace.” Later, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López accused the opposition of “seeking a bloodbath” and blamed them for “every death on the streets,” adding that: “Whoever takes Miraflores with violence will be ousted with violence. If we have to use guns, we’ll use them,” as if the 50 people murdered so far in 2019 had needed that warning.

Padrino said that National Guard officers and SEBIN agents involved in this Tuesday’s events had been deceived, a remarkable exercise of projection, an homage to Hugo Chávez, who confessed that back in 1992, he staged his coup d’état with young soldiers whom he tricked into action. Outside Miraflores Palace, Diosdado Cabello said that the uprising had failed and called chavistas to stand in vigil: “I’m sure that we’ll hear their explanations and whining, that they (the rebels) were going to fix the country, as if these people needed anyone to come fix their problems,” said Cabello, adding that they know who was involved in “the coup d’état”.

Movements on the board

  • The governments of nations such as Canada, the United Kingdom, Colombia, Panama, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, the United States, France and Germany expressed their support of Juan Guaidó’s actions.
  • Spain urged to avoid bloodshed, echoed by UN Secretary General António Guterres and Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, rejecting any kind of violence and calling for “the utmost restraint to avoid the loss of lives and an escalation of tensions.”

  • The UN Security Council said to be closely monitoring the events and is ready to call for an emergency meeting if necessary.
  • Bolivia, Cuba, Turkey, Mexico and Russia expressed their support for Nicolás.
  • Samuel Moncada’s statements at the UN were shameful. Once again he tried to undermine the disproportionate use of violence against unarmed protesters and followed an incoherent script to explain the solidity of Nicolás’s government.
  • In a statement, the Lima Group urged Nicolás to end the usurpation and warned him about his direct responsibility in the indiscriminate use of violence in repression. They call for chavismo to end the usurpation “so that Venezuela can start the democratic transition, constitutional normalization and economic and social reconstruction.”

The American theory

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton said during a press conference that Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López, chief justice Maikel Moreno, and Iván Hernández Dala, head of the Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM) had agreed that Nicolás had to leave power peacefully and afterwards, elections would be held. According to Bolton, these officials backtracked but he offered to remove them from the sanctions list if they accept Juan Guaidó’s amnesty, protect the Constitution and remove Nicolás, cautioning them that: “Your time is up. This is your last chance.” He also pointed out that “All options are still on the table.”

President Donald Trump restated that his government “stands with the people of Venezuela and its freedom,” saying that if “Cuban troops and militia do not immediately cease military and other operations for the purpose of causing death and destruction to the Constitution of Venezuela, a full and complete embargo, together with the highest-level sanctions, will be placed on the island of Cuba.”

Meanwhile, Elliott Abrams, U.S. Special Envoy for Venezuela, said that the opposition movement didn’t start out of nowhere, that it included negotiations with top regime officials. Lastly, State Secretary Mike Pompeo also said that they had information that Nicolás was ready to leave the country this Tuesday morning, but Russia convinced him to remain in Caracas. He also said that Nicolás would travel to Havana.

Asylums and questions

Chilean Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero announced that Leopoldo López (who had been under house arrest for almost two years) and his family entered as guests to the Chilean embassy in Caracas.

López said that Guaidó signed his pardon and that his custodians respected Guaidó’s decision and released him. Also, the newspaper Folha confirmed that 25 soldiers who rebelled against Nicolás were granted asylum at the Brazilian embassy in Caracas. At the moment of writing, we don’t know how many soldiers joined Juan Guaidó, but even more important, we don’t know where Nicolás is and why he hasn’t showed up if Guaidó’s move apparently failed.

The uncertainty that Venezuelan citizens feel is huge. Those who live abroad, please, share only verified information. Censorship and blockades make it impossible to circulate information, a human right that chavismo violates every day.

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