Tareck William Saab, the People’s Defender, spoke on the ongoing controversy surrounding last week’s raid on the Cota 905 area of Caracas. As People”s Defender, Saab acts as a human rights watchdog, working to ensure that the state respects the rights of its citizens.

In a press conference, Saab conceded that the raid on the Cota 905 involved “excessive police force”, although he stressed that none of the victim’s families had filed formal complaints with his office. A total of 16 residents died during the raid.

Saab said:

We do acknowledge that there are approximately 20 complaints regarding the excessive use of forced used by officers to enter homes during the operation (…) there was aggression, violence, when officers entered some homes.

Saab also justified the raid by saying that the area – a “Peace Zone” as designated by the national government – was dangerous, and posed a threat to neighbouring communities. Saab explained:

That area was impossible to go through. They had checkpoints, and they dedicated themselves to murder not only police officers and National Guard soldiers, but they even shot at a Minister’s caravan. There was a lot of concern about what was happening there.

Cota 905 Residents Continue to Voice Outrage

In a clip uploaded to YouTube on July 17, a resident from the Cota 905 speaks from a protest that was taking place in front of the Attorney General’s office in Caracas. In the video, a woman named Lisney Bermudez gives her opinion about the raid.

Below, the video along with my translation:

Lisney Bermudez: They’re trying to hide what they did. This is a sham. And now they’re saying that they’re going to build roads, sports courts and homes in the Cota 905! This is a lie! They’re just saying that to hide what they did. They’re cowards! Maduro, you’re killing Chavez’s grandchildren! He says that we’re Chavez’s grandchildren, and he’s murdering them. He’s stepping over everything our Commander [Chavez] did for us. He needs to learn how to run this country, because he’s failing. We put him in office, and we’re going to remove him from office. We won’t give him even a single vote. He’s in office thanks to the poor. Being poor is not shameful, and it’s not a crime, and the only wrong we’ve done is being poor. We can’t afford to live in gated communities. The police say that everything that we own — computers –, that it’s all stolen. We got all of that by working. We earned that with our sweat! They [the police] stole computers, money, televisions, and house plants from us.

Video Shows PSUV Supporter Shopping in Curacao

A video taken inside a Curacao supermarket has sparked outrage online, as it shows Venezuelan actor and PSUV supporter Roberto Messuti shopping in a supermarket in Curacao.

The video, which was uploaded onto YouTube on July 19, was taken by a man – apparently a staff member – and shows Messuti alongside a female companion buying a large amount of groceries. At the beginning of the video, the woman accompanying Messuti can be seen standing beside two shopping carts full of merchandise. The same woman can later be seen holding a very long receipt.

The video begins with a question aimed at Messuti asking where he found enough money with which to go shopping in Curacao in the first place, since access to foreign currency in Venezuela is severely restricted. The only way to legally acquire foreign currency is through the Centro Nacional de Comercio Exterior (CENCOEX). The maximum amount of foreign currency Venezuelans can access is limited depending on their travel destination and the length of their trip. For Curacao, the limit ranges from $300 to $525 per year, depending on the length of stay.

Venezuelans wishing to travel abroad who need more foreign currency can attempt to get it in the black market at many times the official rate. While the official exchange rate (at the SICAD 2 rate) is Bs. 12.80/US dollar, the black market rate is currently Bs. 633.54/US dollar, making the black market a non-option for most Venezuelans.

Below, the video along with my translation:

Mr. Roberto Messuti, where do you get the DOLLARS to shop in Curacao? Through CENCOEX?

Man Recording: Hey, Ariel, look what I found. Look who’s shopping in Curacao, and look at how much they bought. Look at how long that receipt is.
Second Man: You’re going to send this to…?
Man Recording: I’m going to send this to Ariel. Look at how the communists in your country come to Curacao to shop.
Venezuelan Man: Spending the people’s money.
Man Recording: What do you think? You’re Venezuelan.
Venezuelan Man: What do I think? This is wrong. There’s no money in Venezuela. There’s no food. There’s nothing there, so they come here to shop for food because there isn’t any there. They support the government and say Chavez is the best. How does that sound?
Man Recording: What do you think about this, buddy? This woman’s here shopping with the government’s money.
Third Man: The government of Hugo Chavez Frias, and look where they’re shopping. The people are getting screwed, and here they are shopping.
Man Recording: And they’re dressed really nicely. Everything’s LaCoste. I’m recording, of course I’m recording.
Man Off-Screen: This is savage capitalism.
Man Recording: Who is that woman? What channel is she from?
Man Off-Screen:I know who it is. She’s from [inaudible].
Man Recording: Two full carts. They’re filled up to her ass. And here I am, I’m the one who filmed this video so that the American can give me a visa, please!

Messuti responded to the outrage created on Twitter by the video with a series of tweets:

Neither madness driven by hate, nor a media circus, nor envy, nor pettiness will keep Chavista passion from being victorious again!

When arguments fail, the wild stories begin to flow from the mouths of those who are motivated by hate. Peace!

Remember, don’t give strength to the weak, and don’t encourage him. As our giant [Chavez] said, Eagles don’t hunt flies. We are Chavista passion! Peace!

Torrential Rains Flood Caracas, Surrounding Areas

Torrential rains are causing flooding in sections of Caracas and surrounding areas at this moment.

Below, a picture of the Guaire river nearly overflowed near Caricuao:

La Mariposa, near Caracas:

A road leading into San Antonio de Los Altos in nearby Miranda state:

Another shot from San Antonio de Los Altos:

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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