Today seems to have been a relatively quiet day. There were still demonstrations across the country, but as of the writing of this post, there appear to have been no fatalities today. Specially given the way yesterday ended (with the death of a National Guard soldier), today felt like the morning after a stormy night. Of course, I say that from here, 3200 KM away from Caracas.
Also last night, a protest in Altamira was broken up with the National Guard. Security forces claim that 41 people were arrested, including “eight foreigners who are wanted for international terrorism”, according to VTV. The government seems really keen on pushing the idea that forces outside of Venezuela are involved in starting/financing/running the protests, so this isn’t the first time that I’ve seen the government highlighting the supposed involvement of “foreign terrorists”. El Nacional had an article today detailing how big a travesty it is for a state television network to act as judge and jury when determining the guilt or innocence of citizens under arrest.
We’ve seen this sort of behaviour before. Most famously, Diosdado Cabello revealed the identity of a “Middle Eastern terrorist” captured in Aragua state just days after the man was arrested, before any sort of judicial proceedings had started against him. Below is a video of Diosdado Cabello revealing the identity of the individual:
In the clip, Diosdado says that the man – who he says is a “terrorist from the Middle East” – was apparently found with bank statements from the United States and Colombia. Diosdado also shows a picture of an “explosive” found in the car belonging to the man, which looks like some kind of pot.
None of that means absolutely anything, of course. They’re just pictures, and we’re supposed to take Diosdado’s word for it that they show what he says they show. In a democratic country where the rule of law exists and is upheld by a fair and impartial judiciary, the vice president of the country does not get to go on television and declare a suspect to be a “terrorist” with a handful of pictures. Courts of law exist so that we don’t have to rely on the word of authority figures to determine who is guilty of what crime. A civil law country such as Venezuela relies on impartial judges to conduct investigations into criminal matters, and only once they have collected and examined all evidence – both for and against the accused – do they make a verdict, which they must explain in detail for the sake of transparency. In the two cases highlighted above, the court is the state television network, and the judges are the anchors (including Diosdado Cabello). “These people are terrorists because we say they are. Believe us or not – it doesn’t matter.”
Earlier today, a demonstration set out to the Ramo Verde military facility, where Leopoldo Lopez continues to be incarcerated. The charges – which at first included terrorism (dropped) and murder (dropped) – are still being worked out.
Here are two pictures from the mass of protesters moving on their way to Ramo Verde:
In Valencia, El Trigal woke up to a heavy National Guard presence this morning. Our family there (who live half a block away from where the National Guard was killed) told us that they heard the National Guard going door-to-door last night in the neighbourhood. When they thought that the soldiers were getting ready to come knock on their door, our family hid inside the car and hoped that the soldiers would leave thinking no one was home. They did.
Here is a picture of a more serious-looking barricade in Valencia:
Keeping with the carnaval theme, here is another picture of protesters playing on the holiday season:
Tomorrow, there is a big student protest planned in Caracas, and there is little doubt that demonstrations will continue in other cities across the country. The protest in Caracas will set out from four different points in the city (Plaza la Castella, Plaza Miranda, Ciudad Banesco and Plaza Alfredo Sadel), and will meet in Plaza Brion in Chacaito, which the image below calls “The Plaza of the Future”. The demonstration sets off at 11:00 AM.