University professors attempted to march in Caracas today to demand the government sit down with them to discuss the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement. The demonstration was supposed to leave from the Universidad Central de Venezuela campus and make its way to the Ministry of Higher Education, but it was stopped at the gates of the university by a large detachment of National Bolivarian Police and National Guard officers.
Below, some pictures from the scene earlier today at the university’s Tamanaco gate:
Security forces had at their disposal mobile barricades:
The officers had at their disposal three armoured vehicles. They said that since the professors did not have the required permits to march, their demonstration was illegal and could therefore not take place.
According to Victor Marquez, the president of the Asociacion de Profesores de la Universidad Central de Venezuela, a National Guard commanding officer at the scene told him that the order to stop the demonstration had come straight from President Maduro.
Minister of Higher Education Speaks with Striking Professors
Since the professors were unable to leave their campus, Minister of Higher Education Manuel Fernandez agreed to speak with them to hear their grievances.
At approximately noon local time, Fernandez received documents outlining the professors’ demands. Below, pictures from the scene. Fernandez is the man on the right with the brown-striped shirt:
Fernandez attempted to explain to the professors why they were not being allowed to carry on with their demonstration as they had planned:
You wanted to go to the Ministry, and you have a constitutional right to protest, but since you didn’t have the required paperwork to march [to the Ministry], and since we didn’t want this situation to just end like that, I came here today.
Fernandez also said that the government had been doing its part to carry on with the collective bargaining process in good faith.
The professors appeared to have reacted positively to the minister’s visit. Lourdes Ramirez de Viloria, the president of the Federacion de Asociaciones de Profesores Universitarios de Venezuela, said:
We are really grateful [for the minister’s visit]. Today, we had a chance to speak with Minister Fernandez. Of course we had a chance to speak to him… and we will continue to speak with him.
Below, a picture of Fernandez speaking to the crowd today:
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