Venezuelans took to the streets of cities around the country today for the second day in a row, following yesterday’s massive demonstrations. The demonstrators continue to demand the restoration of democratic order in the country, immediate general elections, and the release of all ~144 political prisoners
The demonstration in Caracas drew a considerable crowd. From the Caurimare neighbourhood early this morning:
A shot of a crowd at noon in the Santa Fe neighbourhood:
The video below shows the protesters on the Francisco Fajardo highway in Santa Fe:
Approximately one hour later, the protesters were on the Francisco de Miranda Avenue heading to Chacao:
The video below was shared by El Hatillo mayor David Smolansky. The tweet reads: “CHEERS to the volunteer medical students who have helped so many wounded and injured by the repression. Heroes”:
Here is another video showing demonstrators on the Francisco Fajardo avenue:
A another shot of the Francisco de Miranda avenue:
Naked Protester Climbs Police Truck, Tries to Talk to Officers
One of the most dramatic moments of the day came when a naked man holding a Bible approached the security forces’ line on the Francisco Fajardo highway. As he approached the authorities with arms outstretched, the man pleaded with them to stop their repression.
In the video below, the naked man is yelling, “Don’t shoot!”. A police officer yells, “Get off the truck! Get off the truck!”:
The man persisted in his interaction with the officers, and was injured in the attempt to speak with them. The image below shows his back dotted with rubber pellets, a weapon of choice of the National Guard:
The video below shows the man trying to reason with the authorities:
Man: Don’t throw more tear gas, man. You guys just stay over here and I’ll go peacefully back that way, but don’t throw more tear gas. [To a particular officer in an armored truck] I know you’re listening to me (…) We’re Venezuelans (…)
His pleas having fallen on deaf ears, the man walks away back to the opposition lines:
Violent Repression of Peaceful Marches Continues
As in previous occassions, the peaceful marchers were violently repressed by official state security forces as well as pro-regime civilian armed groups.
In the video below, protesters sing the national anthem while receiving tear gas volleys. This video was recorded on the Francisco de Miranda Avenue, probably somewhere in Chacao:
Below, a video of a dazed protester moments after he was attacked. While it’s not clear from the video, the reporters around him suggest that the man was beaten by police:
Reporters: Sir, what happened? Were they going to arrest you?
Man: [Nods “Yes”].
Reporters: Did the police hit you?
Reporters: Who hit you? What did the police say?
The video below shows National Guard soldiers shooting people on a street in La Victoria, Aragua state at point blank. The victims do not appear to be part of a protest. However, authorities will often patrol the streets around demonstrations in an attempt to attack people going to/from demonstrations. It is possible that these soldiers believed that the people were somehow involved in the anti-regime protests:
It is likely that the ammunition used in the shooting was of the less-lethal variety, such as rubber pellets.
Demonstrators pulling back from a cloud of tear gas in El Rosal, Caracas:
National Guard Soldier Killed in San Antonio de los Altos Last Night
Yesterday’s historic demonstrations against the Maduro regime ended the day with more bloodshed, as a National Guard soldier died in a confrontation with protesters in San Antonio de los Altos, just south of Caracas, late last night. The soldier’s name was Neuman Jose Sanclemente, and was 28 years old. Another National Guard soldier was injured during operations in the city, but he is expected to recover.
Sanclemente’s death brings the total number of fatalities from yesterday’s unrest to three.
Below, a video showing a group of National Guard soldiers in action in San Antonio de los Altos last night:
The video below appears to have been taken by the same people who recorded the one above. The video shows the soldiers dragging a comrade to safety. The people recording the video believe that the soldier being dragged is dead, but it is unlikely that they were able to make that determination conclusively given their distance from the scene and the lighting conditions:
New Video Shows Moments Before Paola Ramirez’s Death
A new video shows the moments leading to the death of Paola Ramirez in San Cristobal, Tachira.
The video begins as the people recording focus on a group of motorcyclists that are harassing residents of the area. The group is firing their weapons. Towards the end of the video, Ramirez’s body can be seen lying on the ground.
Below, the video:
It is unclear if Ramirez was actively participating in a demonstration at the moment she was shot. Pro-regime armed forces, known in Venezuela as colectivos armados, have been known to fire at people who are merely in the vicinity of anti-regime protests.
Video Shows Colectivos in Show in Intidimation
Two of the three fatalities reported during yesterday’s unrest have been attributed to colectivos armados: pro-regime armed civilian groups that attack protesters to intimidate Venezuelans into not speaking out against the Maduro regime. Colectivos usually move in large groups on motorcycles, and will sometimes wear balaclavas and bandanas to conceal their faces.
Colectivos are an important tool of repression for the Maduro regime. Whereas using uniformed, official state authorities like the National Bolivarian Police to attack protesters with deadly weapons would result in negative media attention on the regime, allowing colectivos to operate gives the regime the bonus of plausible deniability.
The video below shows a colectivo forming up on a street somewhere in Caracas yesterday. My translation follows below:
Colectivo Leader: Who are we?
Colectivo Members: [In unison]: Colectivos!
Colectivo Leader: Who are we?
Colectivo Members: [In unison]: Colectivos!
Colectivo Leader: For the terrorists?
Colectivo Members: [In unison] Plomo! [Literally, “lead”; meaning “Bullets!”]
Colectivo Leader: For the fascists?
Colectivo Members: [In unison] Plomo!
Colectivo Leader: For the [unintelligible]?
Colectivo Members: [In unison] Plomo!
Colectivo Leader: Chavez lives!
Colectivo Members: [In unison]The fight continues!
Colectivo Leader: Chavez lives, lives!
Colectivo Members: [In unison] The fight continues, continues!
Machado: Reverol Ready to Arrest Me
Opposition figure and head of the Vente Venezuela party Maria Corina Machado said today that Minister of the Interior, Justice and Peace Nestor Reverol was working to having her arrested in a bid to put an end to her anti-regime work and that of her party.
Machado made the comment after Reverol announced that the man authorities believe killed Paola Ramirez yesterday in San Cristobal, Tachira, is a member of the Vente Venezuela party. During a press conference, Reverol said that he had seen evidence that Ramirez’s killing “had been deliberately planned”, although it is not entirely clear to what end.
Reverol said that the suspect’s name is Alexis Pernia Perez, who is in fact a member of the Vente Venezuela party.
None of the allegations against Perez have been proven. He has yet to appear before a judge.
Ramirez’s Mother: Gov’t Responsible for Daughter’s Death
Reverol’s comments yesterday stand in direct contradictions to statements to the media made by Ramirez’s mother earlier today.
Ramirez’s mother, Darcy Gonzalez, told reporters in San Cristobal that she does not believe that justice will be served in the case of her daughter’s killing, because the regime “is looking to blame innocent people”. Gomez believes that the people who killed her daughter were pro-regime civilian militias, which were “armed by the government”.
Below, Gomez’s statements on her daughter’s death along with my translation:
Darcy Gomez: … couldn’t do it right now because of the situation [inaudible]. So she started working with those kids, and that’s all.
Reporter: She was 23?
Darcy Gomez: Yes.
Reporter: And she was good?
Darcy Gomez: Yes. She was a good daughter.
Reporter: Is there a message that you’d like to give to the international [media], to the youth?
Darcy Gomez: No. Well, that they should keep going. Keep going. But I know that there won’t be justice. There won’t be justice.
Reporter: Why don’t you think that there will be justice?
Darcy Gomez: Because the government is the one that armed [the men who killed Paola].
In the video below, Gomez describes how her daughter called her shortly before her death to tell her that a colectivo armado was active in the area:
Darcy Gomez: … that aren’t the ones. [She’s just finished saying, “The authorities shouldn’t be trying to blame people who didn’t do this”]. People who didn’t do it.
Reporter: One person has been detained in connection with this…
Darcy Gomez: I don’t think he did it because according to the versions that I’ve heard… that’s false. She told me, “Mom, the colectivos are shooting!”. She told me that over the phone. She was afraid and asked me what to do. But how could I help her if I was over here? I couldn’t have done anything. I couldn’t have done anything.
Videos Show Gun Battles in Quinta Crespo, Caracas
A pair of videos shared through Twitter last night show what appears to be a gun battle between a colectivo armado and residents of the Quinta Crespo neighbourhood of Caracas.
The video below captures the sounds of the gun battle. The people recording believe that the colectivo is coming under fire, presumably from opposition supporters, from an unseen point up the street. The video also captures the sound of a cacerolazo, which is a form of protest in which people bang on pots and pans to make noise:
The second video appears to have been taken in the vicinity of the first. It shows a group of men on the street below apparently reloading their weapons and pointing them at buildings. The man recording believes that the men are members of a colectivo:
Video Captures Moment Tintori, Protesters Come Under Tear Gas Attack
A camera crew captured the moments when human rights activist Lilian Tintori and a large group of protesters came under tear gas attack by state security forces.
Below, the video. Tintori is the blonde woman wearing the white shirt:
Regime Supporters Beat, Throw Bottles at Journalists
Two journalists from El Nacional, a leading national newspaper, were attacked and chased off by a crowd of regime supporters while covering today’s unrest in Caracas.
Abraham Tovar and Fabiana Rondon were filming a pro-regime crowd in La India, Caracas when they say that the regime supporters became violent and attempted to take their equipment from them.
The video below shows the crowd kicking, shoving and throwing bottles at the fleeing journalists:
El Nacional reports that the two journalists knew that the crowd was made up of pro-regime members because they were wearing clothing that had images of Hugo Chavez and pro-regime slogans on it.
General Motors Halts Operations After Plant Expropriated
General Motors announced this morning that its assembly plant in Valencia, Carabobo state had been unexpectedly taken over by the regime, in a move that the company called “illegal”.
Yesterday, GMV’s (General Motors Venezolana) plant was unexpectedly taken by the public authorities, preventing normal operations. In addition, other assets of the company, such as vehicles, have been illegally taken from its facilities
[GM] strongly rejects the arbitrary measures taken by the authorities and will vigorously take all legal actions, within and outside of Venezuela, to defend its rights.
There is no indication at this time as to why the plant was seized. Authorities have not yet made a statement about the measure.
Regime Donated $500k For Trump’s Inauguration Party
The state-owned PDVSA oil company donated $500,000 for U.S President Donald Trump’s inauguration party through its U.S. affiliate, Citgo.
The existence of the donation came to light in a report released yesterday by the Federal Election Commission in the United States.
PDVSA and Citgo are in dire financial straits. Last year, PDVSA put approximately half of Citgo up as collateral in an attempt to secure a $1.5 billion loan from Rosneft, the Russian state-owned oil company.
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