Opposition and PSUV supporters held separate but simultaneous events today – both generally called “The Peace March” – with major events taking place in Caracas.
The PSUV March
The PSUV march in Caracas had the themes of honouring Robert Serra and taking a stand against terrorism. Government supporters marched near the National Assembly, where Maduro and several other PSUV leaders made speeches.
During his speech, Maduro assured supporters that Serra had been killed “to shut him up” and to send a message to Venezuelan youth “to retreat and abandon the fight for the homeland”.
Maduro also claimed that Serra’s murder had been planned in Colombia by terrorists:
We know where the terrorists are (…) it was a paramilitary group controlled from Colombia, with internal help which gave the order and paid to kill him. The crime was planned over three months. They practised it week after week. The one who directed this murder, this terrorist ambush, created maps of Robert’s home. They practised for days how to neutralize Maria [Herrera], how to murder Robert.
If we want stable, perpetual peace, we have to discover who the criminals are, the terrorists (…) we already know who gave the order to murder our beloved martyr Robert Serra. The Venezuelan youth does not fear terrorists.
Maduro also denied rumours that Serra had been murdered because he was a follower of Santeria, a religion combining tenets from various faiths with roots in Africa and the Caribbean.
His speech was cut short by a torrential downpour. As PSUV supporters rushed for shelter, Maduro delivered some last words:
There will not be impunity, nor will there be character assassination… long live the rain! St. Frances of Assisi has sent us this rain… They accused Robert of being a santero as if being one is a crime. My warmest regards and respect to the followers of santeria and to all the religions of this country.
Below, pictures from the PSUV march:
Maduro speaking before the crowd. The sign in the background reads, “Against Terrorism, Venezuela wants peace”:
The Opposition March
The opposition march gathered around the Buena Vista de Petare street in the east end of Caracas. There, several opposition leaders, including the leader of the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica, Jesus “Chuo” Torrealba, spoke to the crowd.
Torrealba also addressed the question of how to achieve peace in the country, saying:
The only way to guarantee peace is for the people to mobilize. Today, the people are showing that we can once again stand united and fight to rescue democracy.
The MUD leader also took a moment to remember the people killed during the protests that shook the country earlier this year:
Today we remember with sorrow the deaths of so many innocent people killed during past protests and for the suffering of their families. With us today is the father of Robert Redman, who is here in memory of his son.
We want a country for all and by all Venezuelans. We have a moral compromise with all of those who’ve died fighting for democracy…
Torrealba also said that there was a “Mobilization Plan” in place which will lead to more massive demonstrations in the future.
Tomas Guanipa, National Assembly deputy and general coordinator of the Voluntad Popular party, also spoke, saying:
We called for this demonstration today to show the national government that more than 80% of Venezuelans reject violence. We ask the authorities to once and for all disarm the violent groups that harass our people; but not only that, to also disarm their tongues, which have so divided the people.
Below, pictures from the opposition march:
Jesus “Chuo” Torrealba among supporters:
Antonio Ledezma, the mayor of Metropolitan Caracas: