There were some demonstrations today. They were particularly ugly in a town called Rubio, in Tachira.
The biggest news of the day was that Daniel Ceballos, the mayor of San Cristobal, was arrested today by SEBIN (Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional) agents in Caracas. The agents apparently did not identify themselves, nor did they produce an arrest warrant at the time they confronted Ceballos. The Minister of the Interior and Justice, Miguel Rodriguez Torres, said: “This is an act of justice against a mayor who not only failed to his constitutional obligations, but also facilitated and supported the irrational violence that shook the city of San Cristobal”. Ceballos is being charged with “rebellion and conspiracy”. Ceballos won his post with 82.784% of the vote.
In a written statement read aloud before demonstrators in Los Teques, Leopoldo Lopez called for a demonstration this Saturday. Speaking at the event, Antonio Ledezma said, “Today, Venezuela suffers from a dictatorship that wants to entrench its hold on power. This is why the protests must take [nuevos aires – literally, “new airs”, as in “a new face” or “a fresh take”] and, peacefully and helped by the constitution, all of us who want change should demonstrate.”
And finally, the executive president of the Venezuelan Chamber of Dairy Industries, Roger Figueroa, said that “there is no powdered milk” in Venezuela anymore since the country only produces enough to meet 50% of the demand. He continued:
When there is no powdered milk in the country, it causes a debacle in the dairy industry because then everyone goes out looking for liquid milk and we don’t produce enough [of it].
There’s problems with the [packagers]. Until that issued is completely resolved, I understand that a huge debt has to be paid [to the companies that package] so that they can [afford to] replenish their inventory so that between April and May they can stock up enough product.
In other words, if you’re in Venezuela and you’re looking for powdered milk, come back in late April and hope for the best.
Here are some pictures of the demonstrations today:
From Maracaibo, where protesters met with a Bolivarian Police barricade that was attempting to stop their march:
This one appears to be from Ciudad Guayana:
From Anzoategui state:
And from a place we haven’t seen before: Maturin, Monagas state!
A bus burning in Tachira (possibly in the town of Rubio):
From Rubio, Tachira, where things got out of hand today:
This one shows a National Guard soldier firing his rifle at head level:
National Guard somewhere in the town:
A street in the town:
More on Maria Corina Machado’s impeachment
The charges against Maria Corina are, according to Diosdado Cabello: instigating violence, treason, terrorism, homicide (amongst others). Yesterday, Diosdado also said: “[Maria Corina has to answer] for these crimes that have caused irreparable damage to the country. 29 dead so far.” The allegation is not that she secretly conspired with violent elements to cause death and the destruction. The allegation is that by virtue of calling for demonstrations (some of which ended up in violence), she is directly responsible for that violence.
Here is the video of Diosdado Cabello elaborating on Maria Corina’s case last night after the National Assembly session. Note the time stamp (around 6:30 local time). That’s less than an hour after the National Assembly voted to go to hand in the papers accusing Maria Corina of these crimes.
Diosdado: … asked the National Assembly to come to the Public Ministry to request an investigation – pertinently and quickly – against Deputy Maria Corina Machado, Maria Machado, for the crimes of instigating violence, treason, terrorism, homicide, for irresponsible calls to violence, for a great number of crimes that are listed in this document that is being presented today in the Fiscalia General.
What is the point? To open the investigation. The Fiscalia, complying with all laws – in fact, I think we’ve taking this [following the law] to the extreme – because this question had to have been asked much earlier. That’s why we’ve come here urgently. And we’ve asked that, adhering to the National Bolivarian Constitution and the law, that [the document we’ve submitted today] go in accordance to what we’ve given to her [the attorney general] to the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia so that they can validate the need to – or not – to impeach Maria Machado for these crimes that have caused irreparable damage to the country. Twenty nine dead. Twenty nine dead until now, and we don’t want any more. The country will not allow any more bloodshed. We don’t have the luxury to spill any more blood of the young, kids, because of the violent calls of people who think that they can change the destiny of this country because they have money, because they’re bourgeois, because they have instructions from the The North American Empire or any empire in the world.
Well, today we hope to begin to do justice.That deputy, Maria Machado, has to face Venezuelan justice for the crimes, the destruction, the disaster, and the instigation to violence, and all of the events that have happened thanks to her calls for destabilization. The country is public, [I can’t understand this bit]… that woman called to ‘ignite’ the streets of Venezuela.
Diosdado: [Doesn’t answer the question]. We’re not here in the Fiscalia because of that. This is a formal accusation we’ve made before the Fiscalia to investigate Mrs. Maria Machado for all of those crimes we’ve listed. And we hope that [justice is carried out]. [Then he talks about how the opposition isn’t participating in the Truth Commission he’s been trying to set up].
The closest thing that Diosdado comes to presenting as evidence of “instigating to violence” is an out-of-context word used by Maria Corina earlier this year. The word prender – which literally means “ignite” or “turn on” – was used by Maria Corina back in January of this year when she said: “We are going to prender the streets of Venezuela, every corner, market, school, universities, and plazas with the spirit of civil protest [protesta ciudana].”
As a native Spanish speaker, I can tell you that prender in the form and context that Maria Corina used it as referenced by Diosdado Cabello is not a call to violent action.