Lunch Break: The Struggle for University Independence

Youth Day protests had a slogan yesterday: respect for university autonomy; Juan Guaidó’s uncle and eight drivers are still missing; The regime promises more violence and impunity against the opposition.

Photo: VOA Noticias, retrieved.
  • On Youth Day, students protested in several parts of Caracas in favor of university autonomy and condemned sentence 0324, issued by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, which forces the Universidad Central de Venezuela, UCV, to hold elections violating its rules and autonomy. David Sosa, president of the Federation of University Student Councils, said that they protested against lack of liberties and the threat of intervention with an unconstitutional sentence. The date set by the TSJ for holding elections for authorities at the UCV is two weeks away. 
  • At the National Assembly: the ordinary session was held at the Bolívar Sq. in Chacao. Deputies rejected the attacks on the press of February 11th in the Simón Bolívar International Airport, and the caretaker president said that the hecklers’s intention is to cause fear. Students spoke too, in honor of Youth Day. Rafael Punceles, university councilman of catholic University UCAB, called for unity despite differences to face the dictatorship. Deputies debated about xenophobia affecting Venezuelan migrants in some countries and approved an agreement to coordinate actions with the Lima Group, the IMO, the UN and UNHCR.They approved the creation of the Comptrollership Council and appointed Juan Pablo Soteldo Azparren as special comptroller. The council’s decisions—autonomous institution for overseeing the caretaker presidency, the National Assembly, ad hoc administrative boards, and the office of the special attorney—will be made unanimously. This institution will work until the “end of the usurpation.”
  • Nicolás, yesterday’s version of him, invited young people who attended Miraflores Palace to take arms, not books and to take part in the Bolivarian Shield Military Exercise 2020, which starts this weekend, improvising an oath that can be summarized as “using arms to defend our homeland, if it’s necessary.”
  • Juan Guaidó called Nicolás a “coward” for his uncle’s forced disappearance, Juan José Márquez. Romina Botaro, Márquez’s wife, said that they don’t know where he is or which institution detained him. 
  • On state network VTV, in the role of interior minister and editor of inhumanity, Diosdado Cabello announced that Márquez “isn’t missing, he’s detained” for having a bulletproof vest, C4 inside flashlights, the contact of a U.S. Secret Service officer and a pendrive with conspiracy plans. Once more, public television is used to justify the government’s kidnapping of a citizen and justify a human rights violation for political reasons. Cabello also ordered to investigate TAP Portugal, the airline. Márquez’s hearing was held yesterday in Macuto, Vargas state. His lawyers weren’t allowed in.
  • Diosdado Cabello also justified attacks on journalists and deputies as a “spontaneous reaction of enraged people” and threatened Guaidó saying that wherever he goes, the people will be waiting for him. He promised more violence and impunity. 
  • The drivers of three buses that took deputies to the airport were also detained and illegally isolated. Their hearing also started yesterday night in Macuto.
  • The lady who directed the María Auxiliadora Madre de Dios community kitchen in Los Teques, attacked by criminals who stole food, is hospitalized.
  • In the first controllership session, Spanish President  Pedro Sánchez called Juan Guaidó a “leader of the Venezuelan opposition” instead of “caretaker president,” as his minister José Luis Ábalos then repeated when he spoke to Congress. They both mocked their hearing in Congress regarding Ábalos’s meeting with Delcy in the Barajas airport, reiterating that, with Ábalos’s intervention, they were able to comply with sanctions and not add “more problems” to the diplomatic relationship with Venezuela. Sánchez asked what the relevance of debating the meeting with Delcy was, while Ábalos assured that those who accuse him have questioned “Spain’s credibility and not his.” The opposition joined in chorus to request “resign, resign!”
  • Juan Guaidó announced more sanctions against Nicolás’s regime and protests on the street: “We’ll see the people in the streets, organized, expressing their will. This escalation in pressure will reach whatever level it must.” 
  • Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno said: “We reject and condemn the violent acts upon Juan Guaidó’s return to Venezuela, and the attacks on his team and family. Nobody should stay silent about what’s happening in our sister nation!” 
  • Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo reported about the agreements with Argentinian minister Felipe Solá, in three key topics: Mercosur, promoting democracy in Venezuela and the fight against organized crime and terrorism. 
  • After meeting President Jair Bolsonaro, Solá said: “We don’t favor Maduro. We favor democracy and democracy means complying with the conditions.”
  • Argentinian deputies presented a draft resolution rejecting Juan José Márquez’s detention and disappearance. 
  • Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou won’t invite Cuban, Venezuelan or Nicaraguan representatives to his swearing-in ceremony. 
  • Venezuela celebrates Youth Day in honor of those who fought alongside José Félix Ribas in the La Victoria Battle on February 12th, 1814. That date has been replaced in our recent history with what we went through in 2014. That year, what should have been a peaceful march, ended with three dead people in Caracas and hundreds of people injured and detained in several cities in the country. The wave of protests in 2014 left 43 deaths, over 1,800 injured and hundreds of detained and tortured protesters. Repression by state forces was brutal, with methods they’ve been repeating ever since, with total impunity.

Naky Soto

Naky gets called Naibet at home and at the bank. She coordinates training programs for an NGO. She collects moments and turns them into words. She has more stories than freckles.