The city of Cumana – the capital of Sucre state, east of Caracas – saw massive unrest today as citizens poured on onto the streets and looted a number of businesses.
The unrest began early this morning, and appears to have been triggered as many other protests have been in recent weeks: when food trucks failed to arrive at supermarkets in the area, upsetting hundreds of frustrated shoppers who had been waiting in line for hours.
Ruben Saud, the president of the Cumana Chamber of Commerce, told the Associated Press that as of the early afternoon, that bakeries, “businesses and supermarkets” had been looted.
The areas hit by the looting appear to be along the Panamericana Avenue, the Universidad Avenue, and the Perimetral Avenue. El Nacional reported at around 1:00 PM local time that traffic through those areas had been completely shut down.
Below, a video showing looting in Cumana at 2:00 PM local time:
The video below shows a National Guard convoy rolling through a city street. One of the green trucks appears to be carrying men dressed in civilian clothes, who have presumably been placed under detention:
Andrews Abreu is a photojournalist who was in Cumana today and uploaded a number of pictures of the unrest there onto his Twitter account. Below, some of his pictures.
Looters enter a juice warehouse: on Humboldt Avenue:
What remains of the Farmahorro pharmacy on Cumana Plaza after it was looted:
The Cumana Plaza Shopping Mall was also looted. Even an eyeglass store was targeted:
Looters also struck the Gran Mariscal de Cumana supermarket:
Looting of the Fashion Centre supermarket:
National Assembly MUD Deputy Jose Guerra said that his office has information that at least three people were killed during the unrest in Cumana today.
Cumana was not the only city to see violence today. Below, a video showing a National Guard soldier beating a civilian with his helmet and shoving others in unrest in Puerto Ordaz, Bolivar state earlier today:
Looting in Merida, Caracas
Looting also broke out in Merida state as well as in Caracas.
In Merida state, the city of El Arenal erupted into chaos last night, as residents set up barricades throughout the city in protest. Throughout the day, a bakery and an automobile accessory store were looted:
In Caracas, the neighbourhood of La Vega in the south of the city was the site of looting for the second time in a week, as looters descended upon the Colonial Shopping Mall in the area. It is not clear at this time if the looters succeeded in breaking into the mall.
Catia, a neighbourhood in the city’s west end, also saw unrest towards the end of the afternoon. Residents of the Gato Negro area of Catia took to the streets and began chanting, “Queremos comida! Queremos comida!” [“We want food! We want food!”]:
The protest in Catia appears to be centered just outside of the Gato Negro subway station, where protesters have blocked the road:
Rodriguez Says Almagro Works for Washington
Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez spoke at the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) today in the Dominican Republic, and used her time at the microphone to accuse OAS Secretary-General Luis Almagro of being a paid agent of the United States government.
Rodriguez said that the Venezuelan government has concrete evidence to back up her claim, but she did not present it at the meeting.
I have irrefutable evidence that the secretary general of the OAS has an interventionist approach to the internal affairs of Venezuela [because] he is under orders from Washington [D.C], serving as an agent of Washington. [Almagro laughs] I know that this makes you laugh, Almagro, but it’s the truth. You are on assignment from Washington to intervene with Venezuela’s internal affairs.
Rodriguez also said that there are no “prisoners of conscience” in Venezuela [a term that generally means “political prisoners”], and that she personally knows what it’s like to be “divergent in conscience” from the political norms because she lived in the pre-Chavez Venezuela.
She also stressed the government line that media reports showing worsening conditions in Venezuela are the result of a global war against the Maduro government, and that the “chief of the US Southern Command” had confirmed that the United States government wanted to invade Venezuela.
After speaking at the General Assembly, Rodriguez met with US Secretary of State John Kerry behind closed doors. While its not yet clear what was discussed during the meeting, Kerry did say before it took place:
Venezuelans have the right to express their will in a peaceful and democratic manner.
Kerry Announces Mission to Caracas
I’ve committed to see if this can work so let’s see if we can improve the relationship.
Thomas Shannon, the under secretary for political affairs at the Department of State, will head to Caracas some time in the immediate future to begin the talks.
Maduro: I’m Ready to Send Ambassador to Washington “Right Now”
Speaking during a televised speech broadcast in the late afternoon, Maduro said that he was willing to draw Venezuela closer to the United States, starting with the symbolic gesture of exchanging diplomatic missions. Maduro said:
I have a proposal for John Kerry. I’m ready to assign an ambassador to Washington right now, and [for the US to send their ambassador] here in Caracas. Ah, but one thing: they must come to show us respect.
Venezuela and the United States have withdrawn their respective ambassadors a number of times since Chavez came to power in 1999.
During the same speech, Maduro called on all Venezuelans to accept a declaration from the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) that the recall referendum would not take place, were such an announcement to be made:
Let us go to combat, let us go to battle. If they [the opposition] really meet all of the legal, regulatory and constitutional prerequisites, but if the public powers – starting with the CNE – say that they’ve examined they have not met the legal, regulatory and constitutional prerequisites and so there won’t be a recall referendum in this case. Sacred words. And you should all accept those words from the [CNE] and there must be peace. No blackmail.
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