One year after protests erupted across the country’s major cities, Venezuelans once again took to the streets in massive numbers to demonstrate against the government of President Maduro.
The student march in Caracas met opposition early on in the day. The march, which was supposed to end at the San Pedro church, ran into a National Guard barricade. The officers refused to allow the demonstrators to continue down their planned route:
In the video below, demonstrators can be seen attempting to cross the National Guard barricade. The march had agreed to end at the church to attend a service to commemorate the deaths of protesters during last year’s violence:
Starting at 1:00, a student organizer pleads with a National Guard soldier, saying:
Student: … we don’t want to go on the street, we want to go on the side walk. Let us continue in peace. We’re so close [to the church]. The bishop is waiting for us.
Soldier: Let’s do this. Promise me that you’re going to stay here and I’m going to go talk to the general…
Student: Do you want me to go with you?
Solider: Ok, come with me.
Starting at 1:27, a priest in white speaks with an officer from the National Police. Based on their conversation, it appears that the National Guard suggested that instead of going inside the church, the mass be held outside. The priest says:
Priest: … I have to go ask if that can be done. But, the rules, according to the Archdioceses of Caracas, is that mass cannot be celebrated in a public place. That’s a fact. You follow your laws, and we also have to follow our laws.
Officer: Ok, let’s see if…
Student: [unintelligible] Send someone else… we feel much safer [unintelligible].
Officer: No, don’t worry, no one’s going…
At 2:59, the student organizer holds up a piece of paper to the camera. The piece of paper appears to be an official protest permit granted to the demonstrators. The student claims that the permit explicitly states that the demonstration was allowed to continue to the San Pedro church. When asked why the march was not being allowed to continue, the student says:
Student: We don’t know. They’re just waiting for authorization.
Reporter: Who is barring you from continuing [to the church] and exercising your right to protest?
Student: Mayor Jorge Rodriguez. Yesterday, he said that we didn’t have a permit – which isn’t true – here it is.
Reporter: Can you show me the stamp on that permit, please?
Student: Of course. If you want a big version, we have it back here.
Reporter: Who do you want to speak with?
Student: We’re only asking to speak with General Almando [?], so that he can allow us to continue our peaceful protest. The church is right there. The church is 100 meters away. We want to pray for those who are no longer with us. That’s all. We’re going to stay on the side walk. What’s the problem?
Reporter: Do you think this is being done to provoke you?
Student: Well, of course, but we will not allow ourselves to be provoked. We are peaceful, no matter what.
Reporter: Do you have anything to say to the government and to the people watching at home?
Student: The moment you prohibit and obstruct peaceful protest, you provoke people who, desperate, try to find other ways. Let’s stay within the boundaries of the constitution. Let’s achieve our goals and give our message, and that’s all. Let’s stay peaceful. Stop assaulting our rights.
The student then explains that he is waiting to speak to the officer in charge to be able to continue to the church.
Violence in San Cristobal, Chacao
The day’s protests began peacefully in San Cristobal, Tachira state, with a large number of citizens taking to the streets:
Later on in the day, confrontations began with security forces, resulting in at least two injuries (pictures from Reuters):
More pictures from San Cristobal:
In Chacao, a truck carrying rubble was swarmed by protesters, who proceeded to empty it to unload its contents onto the street in order to block traffic:
At the moment, the situation in Chacao still appears to be fluid:
Lopez, Ceballos Face Violent Searches
Lilian Tintori, Leopoldo Lopez’s wife, announced today that hooded men – allegedly from the country’s military intelligence department – attempted to enter Lopez’s cell and that of Daniel Ceballos yesterday.
Tintori said that she was attempting to visit Lopez when she witnessed a group of 36 hooded men trying to enter the cell. She said that the men were yelling threats at the prisoners.
When Tintori asked the head of the Ramo Verde prison, Homero Miranda, what was going on, Miranda apparently said that it was only a routine inspection.
Maduro Set to Announce Foiled Coup
Maduro announced late this afternoon that he was going to announce the details of a foiled coup that was apparently scheduled to occur imminently. According to Ultimas Noticias, the coup involved at least seven air force officers.
Maduro is expected to give details of the alleged coup later tonight.
SIMADI Closes First Day of Trading
El Universal is reporting that the SIMADI currency exchange market, which came into effect today, closed its first day of trading at Bs. 170.04 per U.S. dollar.
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