A group of pro-government demonstrators forced their way into the Mario Briceño Iragorry city hall earlier today, injuring at least fifteen municipal workers. According to preliminary reports, the attack was carried out by a pro-government group which was accompanied by PSUV counsellors Javier Colina and Jose Arias. The group appears to have been made up of sanitation workers and students from the Universidad Romulo Gallegos.
Mario Briceño Iragorry is a municipality in Aragua state. It has a population of approximately 100,000.
Two of the injured were Alejandro Ledo and Pedro Hansen, both journalists with the city’s press department. Both men were savagely beaten, and Ledo was thrown out of a second storey window. He survived the fall, but suffered a fractured skull.
Below, pictures showing the crowd of PSUV supporters gathering outside the gates of city hall prior to the attack:
Below, some pictures of the aftermath of the attack:
Below, a video showing Alejandro Ledo’s unconscious body being taken away from the scene:
Assault Against Municipality Began Last Night
Guillermo Luces, the city attorney, spoke to the media from the Maracay Medical Centre after the attack, and said:
We’ve been the victims of attacks since last night by armed bands [belonging to] governor Tarek El Aissami. We hold him responsible for any unfortunate event that might happen now. Many workers were injured by these pro-PSUV colectivos [armed group] in Aragua which are under the control of the governor. They caused this violence and destruction.
Luces also gave an update on the condition of Alejandro Ledo:
Alejandro Ledo is currently undergoing surgery after being thrown out of a second storey window. He is a camarographer for the municipality, had just been released from prison [where he had been sent] as a result of the protests of 2014. He was thrown out a second storey window of city hall.
More generally, Luces addressed the tension between the municipality and the governor’s office, saying:
We are really worried. You can see how we’re being assaulted by El Aissami. This is systemic sabotage. Over the last two years, they [the PSUV] haven’t been able to crush the will of the people of Mario Briceño Irragory. We want the whole country to know the extreme situation that the only opposition mayor in Aragua state is facing. His brother was murdered, the other was kidnapped and had his ear cut off, his mother has been threatened, and his term and those who work alongside him are under constant attack.
Violence Sign of Political Tension
The attack, which was carried out partially by sanitation workers, highlights the political divide affecting Venezuela. Delson Guarete, a member of the Voluntad Popular opposition party, is the mayor of Mario Briceño Iragorry. Residents of Mario Briceño Iragorry told El Nacional that while the sanitation workers carry out their duties in neighbouring PSUV-controlled Girardot, they refuse to do so in their municipality, fuelling speculation that their refusal to work there might be politically motivated.
El Nacional reports that while Aragua state security forces were present at the scene, they did nothing to stop the attack.
Municipality in Lengthy Spat with Aragua Governor
Mario Briceño Iragorry has been involved in a dispute with Aragua state governor Tarek el Aissami since the city came under opposition control in 2013.
Guarete became mayor during the 2013 in a heated battle with his PSUV rival, winning 49.94% of the vote. When protests began to spread throughout the country in February and March of last year, Aragua state governor Tarek El Aissami called Guarete “a criminal and a murderer” for allegedly failing to stop protests in the city.
Since that time, Guarete has accused El Aissami of sabotaging his tenure as mayor by withholding funds and equipment destined for the city.
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