In a humiliating display of his widespread popularity, angry crowds hurled garbage and insults at Maduro last night, putting an abrupt end to a military event he was attending in the city of San Felix in Bolivar state. Images from the event — which were being broadcast live on state-run media — show Maduro smiling and waving inanely at the clearly hostile crowd while being pelted with what appeared to be eggs, water bottles and garbage.
The video below shows the final moments of the event. In the video, Maduro is offering his closing remarks to the soldiers standing before him. Early in the video, the man standing behind Maduro in the red tie notices a growing commotion off-camera and points to it. At around the 0:30 mark, the angry crowd can be seen approaching Maduro’s stand. The full extent of the uncontrolled crowd becomes apparent at the 0:50 mark when the camera pans out.
Below, the video:
After concluding the event, Maduro boarded an open-top vehicle which then made its way through the tumultuous crowd. The video below shows the angry crowd throwing garbage and insulting Maduro as he passes by. The man recording repeatedly yells, “maldito!” [damn you!]:
The video below shows Maduro waving and smiling at the crowd while objects are thrown at him. His bodyguards can be seen scrambling frantically to protect Maduro from the flying objects. At around 0:56, Maduro can be seen rubbing the top of his head, presumably in reaction to being hit by an object:
Last night’s spontaneous demonstration of anger against Maduro is the largest since the one that took place in Villa Rosa, Nueva Esparta state on September 2 of last year.
San Felix was the scene of widespread looting in July of 2015. The looting was spurred by a chronic shortage of food, medicine and basic necessities. The looting left one person dead.
Five people were arrested in connection with the event.
Regime Suggests Crowd Overcome with Love, Not Anger
Former vice-president and high-ranking PSUV official Aristobulo Isturiz spoke on the state-owned VTV network today and said that yesterday’s event in San Felix was motivated by the crowd’s overwhelming love for Maduro, not anger or hatred. Isturiz said that people were in fact throwing things like tomatoes, mangoes and baseballs at Maduro, but that the items contained messages that were meant to reach Maduro.
Below, Isturiz’s comments:
Isturiz: The hill was full of people, all over the hill. When these compatriots saw that the event was about to finish, they plunged forward and climbed over the fence [of the venue]. They were like an avalanche of ice, but with people going to Maduro. Look — at that moment, they were climbing over each other and everything. And they were giving Maduro things. I picked up a ball [stumbles out of chair] — excuse me — a Spalding baseball that they threw at the president, but it had a message on it: “Nicolas! Whatever”. I gave it to the president in the airplane. But, yeah, someone grabbed a mango and wrote, “President Maduro! Whatever, Nicolas”. A tomato. If the people are looking for any medium…
Announcer: You witnessed that event. Did you sense any violence or aggression?
Isturiz: Look, I didn’t sense any violence. Later, I saw on social media that a lady was yelling something. I must confess that I didn’t see her. But if she was yelling, well, anyone could have been there. Anyone could have been there because it was a terrible avalanche of people. But it was full of love. Maduro felt like he was campaigning….
Maduro Records Himself Driving into Miraflores
Hours after he was run out of San Felix, Maduro posted a video of himself driving into the Miraflores Palace in Caracas. His wife, Cilia Flores, sits in the passenger seat. In the video, Maduro reminisces about his time in San Felix, but makes no reference to the unrest. Below, the video along with my translation:
Maduro: We’re arriving at Miraflores after an extraordinary civil-military event with the people of San Felix. It’s 8:56 PM, April 11. 15 after [the 2002 coup]. The oligarchy, imperialism tried to remove the people [from power] and put an end to our Commander, Chavez. I’m going to a set of meetings here in Miraflores. At this time 15 years ago, the coup was really getting going: the treachery — Commander Chavez was getting back-stabbed. But the people and the army saved him and the homeland.
We’re almost there, look! To the Miraflores Palace so we can keep working happily alongside the people in civil-military union. 200 years after the victory at San Felix, and 15 years after the coup and the victory and the civil-military counter-coup, the insurrection.
Here we are so we can keep up Commander Chavez’s work. We’ll maintain his pace and follow his path and his same strength and faith. Thank you to all of the peoples of the world, and thank you to the people of Venezuela. Thank you to the armed forces.
April 11. It’s almost 9:00 PM, and we’re still here. With the people in power, victorious every day. Always moving towards victory. Viva Chavez!
Two Killed, 12 Injured in Overnight Unrest in Barquisimeto
The week’s death toll rose to five last night as violence claimed the lives of two residents of Barquisimeto, Lara state.
The first fatality was a man named Miguel Angel Colmenares, who was shot 11 times by a colevtio armado [pro-government armed group] during a demonstration in the city. The second fatality was 14-year-old Brayan Principal, who was shot under unclear conditions last night in the city.
While El Universal reports that Principal was shot in the chest “during the protests in Barquisimeto last night“, El Nacional reports that he was killed after a colectivo armado attacked his neighbourhood. The newspaper reports that the reason for the attack was that the colectivo was attempting to steal subsidized food bags that had arrived in the neighbourhood and were being prepared for sale to the residents there.
Lara state governor Henri Falcon also told reporters today that at least 12 other individuals sustained gunshot injuries throughout the night during protests. Falcon said that the injured and the two fatalities were victims to local colectivos.
In Venezuela, the colectivo armado is an integral part of the regime’s repressive arm. Made up of civilians and official militia members, colectivos act with impunity against protesters in way that official state security forces cannot.
Regime Supporters Attack Mass in Caracas
Supporters of the Maduro regime attacked a mass inside the Santa Teresa Basilica in Caracas today, sending faithful scrambling in panic. Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, who was presiding over the mass, was “punched and kicked” by the regime supporters as he exited the church.
Cardinal Urosa is the Archbishop of Caracas. As a high-ranking member of the Catholic Church, Urosa has been an outspoken critic of the Maduro regime’s repressive stance towards dissenters and systematic violation of human rights.
Below, a video showing worshipers scrambling for an exit as the pro-regime supporters enter the church:
The videos below shows the chaos that unfolded inside the basilica during the attack:
The video below shows a woman yelling at what appear to be the regime supporters as they enter the church. The colour of the PSUV (the ruling party) is red, and its supporters will often wear red clothing when they attend political events or when they want to make their political stance known:
Woman: Freedom! Freedom! This is the worst thing that the government could have done! Freedom!
PSUV Supporters: [Chanting in unison] Chavez vive! La lucha sigue! [Chavez lives! The struggle continues!]
In the video below, a woman speaks to opposition figure Maria Corina Machado about the attack:
Woman: [The regime] doesn’t respect anything. [Unintelligible] has to be overthrown. We have to get right of these shits. Maduro is nothing but — please forgive my expression — a motherfucker. He’s a murderer.
Machado: What happened?
Woman: [Unintelligible] killing us in there.
Machado: You were there?
Woman: Yes! I just came out of there.
El Universal reports that the regime supporters left the church and then waited outside to “harass worshipers” as they left.
Shortly before the attack began, Urosa spoke about political violence in the country during his sermon. He said:
We reject political violence. We cannot let politics take us to violence. I respectfully and firmly call for an end to the repression of demonstrations. There should be some safeguards so that we do not fall into violence. The violent repression that has taken place over the last few days cannot exist. We must respect one another and coexist [by] grounding ourselves on the Commandments and the national Constitution, and to avoid the excesses of the state’s security apparatus.
San Cristobal Churches Vandalized with Pro-Regime Messages
Two churches were vandalized in San Cristobal, Tachira state overnight. While the churches were spray-painted with pro-regime messages, it is not known who carried out the vandalism. The message painted on the two churches was the same: “Death to Priests – PSUV”.
Below, images of the vandalism:
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