Chaos erupted at the offices of the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) in Caracas today as a group of opposition deputies was attacked by National Police and pro-government civilians. The group, which totaled about 60 opposition deputies, had traveled to the CNE offices to ask why the body still refuses to announce the dates to verify the signatures in favour of holding a recall referendum against Maduro.
The group of deputies was headed by Julio Borges, who explained the purpose of their visit:
We citizens come here in peace. We’ve been waiting for 40 days for the Consejo Nacional Electoral to announce the signature-verification dates to activate the recall referendum against Maduro.
We are here representing the eight million people who voted for the National Assembly, and the two million people who signed [in favour of the referendum]… it cannot be possible that they’ve fenced us in, and that we Venezuelans cannot demand our rights.
The deputies, who were at the CNE offices since early in the morning, were not allowed access to the building by a heavy National Bolivarian Police presence.
The deputies [url=http://www.el-nacional.com/politica/MUD-CNE-asignacion-validar-revocatorio_0_863313700.html]eventually managed to cross the police line and enter the building[/url]. Almost immediately, a civilian “armed groups”, known colloquially as colectivo armado, began to attack the deputies.
During the ensuring scuffle, deputy Julio Borges was hit in the face with what looks to be a metal club:
Borges said that General Fabio Zarvace – presumably the man in charge of today’s security operation at the CNE – is the one who gave the order for violence to be used against the deputies:
General Fabio Zavarce gave the order to [get] shoved and beaten by the government’s colectivos (…) they attacked us with sticks and explosive objects.
Juan Guaido, another opposition deputy, said that the security officers at the scene “did nothing to defend us” from the colectivo attack.
The video below shows scuffles breaking out on the street in front of the CNE building within sight of what appear to be a mix of National Guard and National Bolivarian Police officers:
Deputy Tomas Guanipa said that “over 10” opposition deputies suffered attacksby the colectivo at the CNE today.
Below, a video of the commotion outside of the CNE:
Below, another picture from the scene:
Borges: “The Way” Must be Peaceful
After suffering the attack, Borges spoke to the media and stressed the importance of the recall referendum as the best mechanism by which to address the crisis in the country:
Violence is not the way; the referendum means peace.
Allup: “The Violence is Permanent”
National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup reacted today to the attack on the opposition deputies at the CNE, calling on Venezuelans to “reflect” on the fact that this is far from the first time that opposition politicians have been the victims of violence.
Allup pointed out that “the violence is permanent” against opposition politicians in the country, specially by pro-government armed groups. Allup said that opposition politicians and supporters have “the same rights as any other citizen”, and called on the national authorities to do more to crack down on violence against the opposition.
In pointing to the campaign of violence against the opposition, Allup warned all Venezuelans that lawlessness and impunity are impossible to control:
Today it’s one of us, but tomorrow it could be any of you.
NBP Stops Student March
The National Bolivarian Police prevented Caracas’ university students from conducting a peaceful march today to the center of the city, forming large lines like the one seen below to stop the students’ path:
The students had hoped to reach the main CNE headquarters in Caracas today.
Below, a picture from the student demonstration as it made its unsuccessful attempt to reach the CNE offices:
Despite failing to reach the CNE building, student union leader Hasler Iglesias said on Twitter that the country’s students would “continue to be in the streets” to demand that the CNE stop deliberately trying to delay the recall referendum:
At approximately 1:45 PM local time, the students attempted to take a route that took them out of the Universidad Central de Venezuela and into Plaza Venezuela. Security forces prevented the students from leaving the campus, and dispersed the demonstration with tear gas and rubber bullets.
Below, an image showing the security line that stopped the students from leaving the campus:
Unrest in Petare as Food Truck Looted
A truck carrying meat was looted in the Petare area of Caracas today near the Palo Verde subway station. Businesses in the area shut their doors as news about a possible looting spree began to spread.
Below, a video of the meat truck being looted:
Below, a video of the unrest in Palo Verde earlier today:
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