Opposition supporters congregated at the Bello Monte subway station today and made their third attempt to reach the headquarters of the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), despite having a judicial ban and two previous failed attempts.
The march began shortly before 11:30 AM Caracas time, once Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles joined the protesters.
Shortly after the march set off, protesters came across a National Bolivarian Police line blocking their way near the Universidad Central de Venezuela. Upon reaching the line, Capriles and those around him were pepper sprayed. Below, a video of the event (Capriles is the one in the dark green shirt):
The protesters remained on the scene with Capriles for about 20 minutes, and attempted to negotiate with the officers to let them through:
Shortly after the pepper spraying incident, National Bolivarian Police officers overlooking the protest from a height began firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd:
At least one protester was injured:
The protesters found an alternate route onto the Francisco Fajardo highway and began to march west. However, by approximately 1:00 PM, the National Bolivarian Police appeared to have pushed the protesters off the highway, and dispersed them with tear gas:
The demonstrators were dispersed, ending the protest short of their goal for the third time.
Below, pictures from today’s demonstration.
A line of motorized National Bolivarian Police officers make their way down a street:
National Bolivarian Police officers forming a shield wall:
CNE Offices Evacuated Due to Bomb Threat
CNE offices were evacuated in six states today allegedly as a response to bomb threats made against the electoral body. The affected offices were located in Tachira, Yaracuy, Aragua, Miranda, Merida and Delta Amacuro states. It is not clear at this time if any actual explosive devises were found on the premises of the affected CNE offices, or what the nature of the bomb threat was.
None of the CNE offices in Caracas were affected by the bomb scare.
Gang Locks Down Caracas Neighbourhood
Late yesterday evening, officers from the Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional (SEBIN) attempted to carry out a security operation in the 23 de Enero neighbourhood of Caracas. The operation was frustrated by a local gang, which took to the streets in the area and locked down the neighbourhood by burning tires and blocking traffic.
While initial reports suggested that the gang was a colectivo armado (a civilian armed group that typically sides with the government), the head of the Tupamaro colectivo – the largest in the country – was quick to dispel the rumours. Jose Pinto said:
What happened there was a circumstantial event that had nothing to do with the colectivos. It was simply a protest (…) by a minority group that took place and then ended.
The SEBIN agents were apparently hoping to raid a building complex in the area as part of an investigation into the murder of retired army major general Felix Velasquez on May 28. El Nacional reports that a colectivo that operates out of the area called “Tres Raices” [Three Roots] was involved in the murder.
Below, some images of the event at the 23 de Enero yesterday:
Officer Charged with Woman’s Death in San Cristobal
The chief of the Tachira state police, Yeisy Renee Burgos Moreno, has been charged with the murder of 42-year old Jenny Elizabeth Gomez, after the woman died from gunshot injuries sustained during a looting event at a food warehouse in San Cristobal on Sunday night.
El Nacional reports that Gomez received “several impacts” from rubber bullets in the face, and that a thirteen year old boy was also hurt during the same event.
May Saw Most Looting in 17 Months
The month of May saw the most instances of looting or attempted looting in Venezuela in 17 months, according to figures from Runrun.es. The news website claims that there were twice as Many looting events in May (81) as there were in April (41). May’s figure averages out to slight over two looting events per day in May.
Looting Spree in San Juan De Los Morros
A looting spree broke out today in San Juan de Los Morros, Yaracuy state, with citizens breaking into several several stores in the town. The Los Boyacos butcher shop and the Casa Grande supermarket appear to have been particularly hard hit by the looting.
El Nacional reports that the looting broke out after members from a local CLAP (a government-run food distribution program) approached the stores and attempted to divert product away from them, allegedly to distribute to the community at a later time.
Below, a video of the looting in San Juan de Los Morros:
The looting plunged the town into total chaos, and was not limited to just food establishments. The video below shows the looting of a truck that appears to have been carrying chairs:
National Assembly Deputy Carlos Prosperi posted the following video, showing a wider angle of the looting:
Citizens Protest for Food In Trujillo
Citizens in the town of Valera in Trujillo state took to the streets today to protest worsening food shortages. Some of the protesters faced off against National Guard soldiers who were dispatched to suppress the unrest:
El Universal reports that some protesters blocked traffic on roads in the town by removing manhole covers and placing garbage bags and other debris on the road. The colloquial Spanish for that kind of protest is guarimba.
At least one truck – belonging to the state-owned Bicentenario supermarket chain – was looted in the Milagro neighbourhood of the city:
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