The intensity of protests dwindles in Venezuela

“Guarimbas” (makeshift barricades) are being set up once more in some areas of the capital city of Caracas, but with diminished strength.

By Efe. La Vanguardia. 02-26- 2014

Caracas (Efe).- The protests that have been called against Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro for almost two weeks were still raging in several points of the Caribbean nation, although with less intensity and violence, contrasting with the two casualties and looting that occurred earlier this week.

The “guarimbas”, or barricades, that were being once again set up on some areas marked the fourteenth day of protests in Caracas, Maracaibo, Táchira, Carabobo, and Aragua, although this time protesters were leaving space for vehicles to go through.

Tensions are, however, still high after the demonstrations called by students and the opposition on February 12th against Maduro’s government ended up in violence and three dead, sparking a rash of new protests, some less peaceful than others.

Venezuela’s Attorney General, Luis Ortega, declared that as of today 13 casualties were caused by protests. This number was raised to 15 by local media, which added two more deaths registered on Monday in actions linked to demonstrations.

Yesterday, two 34 year-old men became part of the latest death toll: Jimmy Vargas, who fell from a building in western Táchira, after he was supposedly hit with tear gas and rubber bullets shot by the police; and Wilmer Carballo, whose death was attributed to a gunshot wound allegedly received in Cagua, in the state of Aragua in central Venezuela.

Delson Guarate, mayor of the opposition-governed Mario Briceño municipality in Aragua, declared that “armed gangs” took advantage of yesterday’s demonstrations to spark a wave of looting in his community, which shares a border with the state’s capital, Maracay.

According to the mayor, the incidents left three soldiers and seven protesters injured, mostly caused by rubber bullets.

There was also news of the murder of an alleged looter, who received nine shots. Initial police investigations indicate that the murder might have been revenge-driven.

Today in Caracas, thousands of students and people who oppose the government of Maduro walked to the Cuban embassy to deliver a statement in which they demand the end of alleged Cuban “meddling” in Venezuelan affairs.

The student leader Gaby Arellano, reading from their “Letter to the Cuban dictatorship”, assured that “we will not allow any further intrusions […] and to let them control our media and decide what can and cannot be seen or when. We will not allow them to decide on our military operations or indoctrinate our children.”

Near the Cuban embassy, heavily guarded by the National Guard, two young protesters delivered the letter to a police officer, who took it into the embassy. Shortly thereafter, he returned with it, signed and dated.

On the other side of the fray, employees of State-owned communications company Cantv were gathered to support Maduro’s government.

The Venezuelan president, during a mandatory media-wide broadcast assured viewers that they were going to “control and tame violent groups; but we shouldn’t get too confident.”

The president also spoke about “two models of Venezuela”: a progressive, socialist, and peaceful one that is “a proud Venezuela”; and a Venezuela “characterized by destruction, capitalism, racism, and intolerance.”

During the same broadcast, Maduro regretted the murder of former boxing champion Antonio Cermeño, who was found dead today after being kidnapped yesterday, and assured his murderers were “paid mercenaries.”

He also declared that “at the same time”, Winston Vallenilla, president of TVES, a government-run TV station, was being attacked in his own home in eastern Caracas. He assured that “fascist”, “barricade-building”, “violent groups” were responsible for this attack.

For his part, Venezuela’s vice-president Jorge Arreaza used his speech in Parliament to beckon the opposition to participate in the National Peace Conference, which will be held this Wednesday by president Maduro. He also called upon opposition leaders to avoid repeating past “mistakes.”

Today, bishops speaking on behalf the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference (CEV in Spanish) rejected the violence used by the State’s security forces which, according to them “have crossed the line” when suppressing recent demonstrations.

Likewise, they declared that the Prosecutor’s office should “investigate and bring to justice the officers that abused their authority.” They also pointed out that the police and military “must respect human rights, especially the right to life”.


Source: EFE .”Baja la intensided de las protestas en Venezuela”. La Vanguardia . February 26th, 2014. Accessed on: March 1st, 2014.

Translated by #infoVnzla