Operacion Liberacion del Pueblo [Operation Liberation of the People] (OLP) continued today as officers from the National Guard and the National Bolivarian Police raided a Mision Vivienda apartment complex in central Caracas earlier today. At least four buildings are targeted in the police raid in the Parque Carabobo and Nuevo Circo areas of the city.
El Universal reports that at least 703 security officers took part in the operation. Today’s raid is the second one this week in Caracas, and the third one in two weeks. Last Monday, a raid in the Cota 905 area of Caracas left at least 16 people dead, while a raid along a stretch of the Panamericana highway in the city saw as many as 220 families evicted from their makeshift homes.
The raid began in the early morning hours, and saw officers enter the Omar Torrijos I and II, and the Ojos de Chavez buildings in the vicinity of Parque Carabobo. Both towers are owned and maintained by the government through its Mision Vivienda subsidized housing project.
Below, a picture of one of the buildings raided:
Below, some unedited footage from La Patilla showing scenes from the raids:
Food Storage Warehouse Looted in Monagas
Residents of the Barrancas del Orinoco municipality in Monagas state broke into and looted a local food storage warehouse earlier today. The warehouse stored products destined for a local PDVAL, a state-run supermarket chain.
A journalist named Rafael Sarabia told La Patilla that security officials responded to the scene and acted to disperse the looters. La Patilla also reports that the looting began after residents began to notice that while the warehouse was stocked, loaded trucks often left the warehouse destined for other communities. .
Pictures of the event uploaded to Twitter show crowds of at least a few dozen people inside what appears to be a food storage warehouse. Below, some of the shots from the scene:
Lopez Trial: Students Testify They Were Not Incited to Violence
Leopoldo Lopez has been in prison since February 18, 2014 on charges stemming from his alleged instigation of an attack on the Public Ministry building in Caracas six days prior. Central to the government’s case against Lopez is the claim that through his speeches, Lopez instigated the violence that day.
Today, the Public Ministry – the plaintiff in the case – called two teenagers to the witness stand. The teenagers are accused of having taken part on the attack on the Public Ministry on February 12. One of Lopez’s lawyers, Juan Carlos Gutierrez, said that the teenagers admitted in court to having acted of their own free will when they threw stones against the government building. Gutierrez said:
These youths admitted before the tribunal to having thrown rocks at the Public [Ministry] building, and said that they had done it ‘of their own free will’. This means that they were not influenced by anyone. These witnessed ground the Public Ministry’s allegations that Leopoldo Lopez was behind this to dust. They didn’t listen to [Lopez’s] speech, nor did they mention Lopez’s words during their testimony. If they acted of their own free will, then the figure of Lopez as the instigator does not stand. Each hearing makes it clearer that Lopez did not influence, nor could he have influenced, anyone who was at that demonstration.
Gutierrez also said that one of the teenagers testified that the reason the crowd of protesters turned violent on the night of February 12 was that what they believed to be a colectivo – a pro-government armed group – opened fire on the opposition crowd.
Cabello: “I Know Everyone in the Army”
National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello sat down for an interview with Globovision’s Vladimir Villegas today. When asked about how influential he was inside the Venezuelan army, Cabello said:
I come from the army. I am essentially a solider. I know everyone in the army; or, at least, I’ve seen them before. My cohort are now divisional generals who have recently been promoted. It’s absurd to day, “Diosdado Cabello controls the army because people in his cohort have been promoted to divisional generals!” They deserve it. That’s not on Diosdado’s whim.
Cabello was also asked if he thought that a movement like the Movimiento Bolivariano Revolucionario 200 (MBR-200) – a group of revolutionary army officers created by Chavez in 1982 – could ever arise again from the ranks of the army. Cabello answered:
I would not commit the error of saying that this will not happen. Thinking that this is impossible would be a huge error, as would be saying that the army will never again see someone with that kind of leadership. I would never underestimate that; I wouldn’t believe that lie.
Having said that, Cabello clarified that he believes that “a really important number” of army staff are aligned with the ideals of Hugo Chavez.
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