Protests over the lack of food and medicine in the city of Tucupita, Delta Amacuro state left three people dead yesterday and at least 146 detained. The city awoke this morning to heavy National Guard presence, as authorities sought to restore order to the city.
The unrest appears to have been precipitated by widespread frustration with the CLAP, a government-run distribution system that involves local organizations delivering food to residents as opposed to having the residents resort to supermarkets to find food.
Since its inception earlier this year, the CLAP system has come under sustained criticism by large sectors of Venezuelan society, not only because they so far appear to lack the ability to carry out their mandate, but also because of alleged discrimination by the CLAP committees against opposition supporters.
In all, the protests flared up in at least 18 different points in the city. National Assembly deputy for Delta Amacuro Larissa Gonzalez said that the authorities’ response was overwhelming. Gonzalez also said that there were arrest warrants out for journalists who covered yesterday’s events, although it is not clear for what reason exactly.
Following yesterday’s unrest, the governor of Delta Amacuro, Lizeta Hernandez, declared martial law in the city for 24 hours. The decree includes a ban on any kind of public demonstration – peaceful or otherwise – as well as public congregations. Governor Hernandez blamed Leopoldo Lopez’s wife, Lilian Tintori, as well as the opposition in general for generating the violence.
The picture below has been spreading through social media since it was taken in the city yesterday. It shows what appears to be an infirmed man on a wheelchair facing off against National Guard soldiers, both of whom are armed:
At another point, the same man blocked the path of an armored vehicle:
A close-up of the man in the wheelchair:
The man appears to have been injured during the unrest:
Below, a picture of some of the detained:
El Universal reports that the detained will be transferred to the Guarico prison
Protest in El Valle
National Guard and National Bolivarian Police officers responded to a protest over the lack of food in the El Valle neighbourhood of Caracas by firing tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the protesters.
Below, a video taken at the protest site in El Valle earlier today:
NGO: 5,853 Arbitrary Detentions Since February 2014
The Foro Penal Venezolano [Venezuelan Penal Forum] (FPV) revealed today that it has tallied 5,853 arbitrary, politically-motivated detentions in the country since February 2014, when discontent with the Maduro administration began to boil over onto the streets.
The FPV has also documented 145 cases of torture or inhuman treatment since that same time.
The FPV also revealed that there are 96 political prisoners in the country, as well as 1,998 individuals who are free on judicial conditions.
The executive director of the FPV, Alfredo Romero, spoke on the worrying increase of political persecution in the country:
Just to give you an idea, there were 1,600 political detentions in June 2016. Since January, we’ve registered 2,013 politically-motivated detentions.
Some people are freed, but the government doesn’t delay in arresting others in what we’ve called the “revolving door effect”, which means that the government strategically incarcerates some while freeing others. There are currently 96 political prisoners, but since January 2014, 5,853 people have suffered imprisonment due to political reasons. Some for days, and others for years.
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