Residential Complex in Maracaibo Attacked
There was unrest in Maracaibo today, where neighbours from the Palaima building complex in La Trinidad say their building was attacked by a combination of National Guard and a group of civilians. Six vehicles were burned, 20 others were damaged and some common areas of the complex, along with some apartment windows, were broken. The National Guard was accompanied by approximately 70 non-uniformed people.
Here are a couple of pictures from the event at the Palaima residential complex today:
Here is a video of what happened at Palaima, with my translation below:
The [National] guards are looking at them, how they’re destroying things, and they’re not even able to detain them or to stop them from taking things. They’re simply telling them to go away because they know they are being recorded and that they’re being watched. Those scumbags are [in this] together. My God, look at how they’re destroying things, and look at the millions [of goods in bolivares] they are taking with them. Look at how they left the cars!
News From the Rest of the Country
Starting at around 4:00 AM this morning, protesters near Montaña Alta (near Los Teques) blocked a major highway in the area, resulting in a confrontation with the National Guard. Two demonstrators were injured with buckshot during the event. The demonstrators were apparently out protesting the nearby murder of Adriana Arquiola on Sunday.
This is what Montaña Alta looked like this morning:
There is some nervousness on the opposition side today after Maduro’s comments last night regarding the UBCh (Chavez-Bolivar Battle Units). Last night, Maduro called on the units in Tachira and Carabobo to “get ready and be alert” in preparation for the elections planned for San Cristobal and San Diego. The UBCH are “the base structure of our Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela and their vanguard is made up by [its] 40 most disciplined and conscientious militants.” To the opposition, they are virtually synonymous with the colectivos armados.
There are apparently 13,000 UBCH units in the country, and each one is made up of 5 people. At an event yesterday to commemorate the 20 years in Chavez’s release from Yare Prison after his arrest for the 1992 coup, National Assembly Deputy Freddy Bernal (who is “responsible for the security of the PSUV”) said:
Not everyone who wears a red cap and says that they are Bolivarians are revolutionaries! They’re infiltrators! Opportunists!
We are not stupid. Every patrol chief, every member of the PSUV should activate the ‘resistance plan’. Let us honour Chavez by preparing for battle!
The guarimbas will calm down, but they will come [at us] in strength because the gringos want to overthrow the government… we cannot allow them to put an end to the revolution!
At the same event, the governor of Anzoategui state, Aristobulo Isturiz, said:
Faced with confrontation, it’s them or us. They’ve risen up. They abuse Maduro’s tolerance and that of the people. [b]We counted to 10, then to 100. But when we get to 1000, I won’t answer. We won’t allow for them to make our lives impossible. We don’t want a civil war, but don’t piss us off!
A suspect implicated in the Adriana Urquiola murder and his brother are now on the run. Jhonny Eduardo Bolivar Jimenez was summoned to make a statement on the murder, and the CICPC (the Venezuelan “CSI”) raided his home and found three pistols and some kind of grenade launcher.
Jhonny was identified as the owner of the black Toyota truck from which men emerged and killed Adriana and injured another woman on Sunday. Johnny did talk to the CICPC earlier, saying that he was indeed the owner of the truck in question, but that his brother “had it that night”. Johnny is apparently an employee of CORPOLEC (Empresa Electrica Socialista), a state-owned electrical company.
Three pictures from San Cristobal this morning:
There were demonstrations in Altamira, also. They were dispersed with tear gas:
Fuerte Paramacay in Naguanagua, Carabobo:
A citizen’s assembly in Colinas de Bello Monte, Caracas:
From the Public Ministry in Maracaibo, a form of protest I’d seen at least once before done in Caracas. They’re garbage bags shaped like human bodies to protest the dead (it looks like they are specifically protesting the dead during the protests). When I saw it done in Caracas, it was protesting the high murder rate:
Venezuela was one of 11 countries to vote against the UN resolution backing Ukraine’s national integrity today, along with Cuba, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, Russia, Nicaragua, and Zimbabwe.
Today I was asked, “What would the government have to do in order to help satisfy the demands of the protesters?” My answer is that we’re really far away from being able to ask that question.
One of the problems here is that the opposition is now saying that before any dialogue can take place, the students arrested/now the political prisoners must be released. The government hasn’t even recognized the protests as legitimate expressions of discontent and frustration, so it’s not going to release anyone. Maduro threatens Capriles with removal from office and imprisonment and then mockingly asks, “Didn’t you people want elections? Now you’re getting them!”. Maria Corina Machado swears up and down that Havana are pulling all the strings in Venezuela. Never mind what requests can be made of the government to lead to a de-escalation; the two sides don’t share the same reality in even the most fundamental levels.
The kinds of things that would need to happen right off the bat before any dialogue would take place (for example, releasing Ceballos/Scarano/Lopez/Simonovis) would be such a break from the status quo for the PSUV that I’m not sure that 1) anyone anywhere near the presidency would ever make that call, and 2) if they did, I think the argument could be made that the culture of the PSUV as we know it would have to change in such a drastic way that whatever it turned into might not be called the PSUV.
In other words, what the two sides are asking from one another is the antithesis of what they each are and have been for so long. The PSUV wants everyone to go home and for the opposition to stop talking about this. The opposition wants the PSUV to take their carefully crafted and cultivated culture and do a 180 on it. This is part of the reason why the situation is so messy, and why there’s tons of room for things to get much worse.