Chacao was the scene of some intense confrontations between demonstrators and the National Guard last night. Here are some pictures:

Apparently, two ballenas [literally, “whale”, a high pressure water truck used to disperse crowds] were at least partially engulfed in flames. Here is a video of one of the ballenas on fire:

This morning, El Universal is reporting that two reporters from Globovision Zulia, Madelyn Palmar and Jesus Gonzales, were dismissed by the network late last week. Their technical and video team was also dismissed.

Through Twitter, Madelyn says that her and her team captured images that appear to show National Guard collaborating with colectivos during the attack in Palaima, Maracaibo last week. She says that the network refused to air the photographs. The article does say that Globovision had cancelled their contract before these events, but the issue of the network refusing to air the images – if true – would still be troubling. According to the article, the reporters worked through the day on Thursday after having submitted the images in question, but when they showed up to work on Friday morning they were told they had all been replaced.

Through Twitter (@Madepalma), Madelyn has tweeted these three pictures, which she claims were taken during the disturbances in Maracaibo and show “how the National Guard are found acting with colectivos in Palaima”. She says these are the pictures the network refused to show on air.

This first picture isn’t very clear, but it shows hooded men alongside at least two men in what appears to be National Guard uniform:

The two National Guard soldiers are now much clearer:

And this one:

On its own it is not overwhelming evidence of anything, but these are not the first pictures we’ve seen of National Guard and non-uniformed people mingling in these kinds of situations.

On the issue of scarcity, this article points out that there is a 10% loss in production every month due to “unjustified stoppages” in the process. The article lays most of the blame on the inability of the government to hand over dollars industries need to buy products, and that the backlog now appears to be over 250 days, but there are cases of delays of 628 days.

Food processing industries are also waiting on the government to authorize dollars for purchases they expect to make this year.

The Tarjeta de Abastecimineto Seguro is all set to roll out starting tomorrow. Felix Osorio, the Minister of Nutrition, said that the card will regulate both the quantity of products bought and frequency of purchases using the user’s fingerprints. He also said:

With the new start of [this] system we are going to defeat contraband, resale, bachaqueo [smuggling to Colombia], hoarding and speculation.

The tally of people currently imprisoned since the start of the protests until March 27 is 168, while a total of 2,153 people have been “processed” by the legal system, according to the Public Ministry. According to the Ministry:

  • 28 of the dead are civilians, and 9 are security forces officers
  • 21 were killed by gunfire, and 6 “by crashing into barricades”. Furthermore, “five died while clearing a way through the barricades, one died from a bladed weapon, and one died from being run over”.
  • Out of the 559 reported injured, 379 are civilians and 180 are security forces officers.
  • Out of the 2,153 “processed” individuals, 1,887 are adults and 266 are youths.
  • 1,890 people have been summoned back to court at a later date, and 168 are currently incarcerated.

According to CENDA (an organization that “studies, analyses, elaborates and publishes issues regarding the quality of life and conditions of Venezuelan workers”), the price of the nutritious food basket has increased 6.1% since the start of the year. Since February 2013, the price has increased 57.3%. The article also says:

… average family incomes (more than 5,400 Bolivares) has a purchasing power of 48.3%, and represents a deficit of 6,362.38 (51.7%) for the purchasing of food, goods and basic services. ‘A family today needs four minimum salaries to cover their basic costs’, says the [report].

The National Assembly is reconvening tomorrow, and Maria Corina Machado said today that she will definitely be showing up to work tomorrow even though Diosdado Cabello said last week that she doesn’t work there anymore. Maria Corina said:

I am a National Assembly deputy and I will continue to be one until the people so wish it. Tomorrow I will assist [attend] the Assembly because that’s what the people expect, that I be the voice of all Venezuela.

Diosado Cabello made news last week when he declared that Maria Corina was no longer a deputy, and that she would be barred from entering the National Assembly building.

Some pictures to end off the night:

From Tachira, where the situation today continued to be tense:

In Caracas, students from the Universidad Central blocked a road:

A burning barricade in Caracas. The barrio you see in the background is Petare:

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