Venezuelans marched against the Maduro regime’s violence today in a protest that was called Marcha del Silencio [the Silent March]. Caracas residents set out from 20 different points across the city, and marched to the offices of the Episcopal Conference of Venezuela, which are located in the Montalban neighbourhood of the city. The protesters wore white and marched in memory of the approximately 19 Venezuelans who have died over the last two and a half weeks of unrest.
Unlike previous efforts to reach the western part of the city, demonstrators were able to reach their destination today with relative easy. The Maduro regime has a long-standing ban on opposition marches in the Libertador municipality, which covers the western half of Caracas, since that area houses many of the government’s buildings and is currently controlled by PSUV mayor Jorge Rodriguez. While Montalban is in the Libertador municipality, it is not near any government offices.
In an unprecedented move, a National Bolivarian Police commander told a leading element of the protest that they would be escorted to their destination “through the safest route possible”. Speaking on the relative peace with which the march took place, National Assembly deputy Tomas Guanipa said”
… nothing unfortunate has happened [today] for one reason only: there has been no repression from the authorities. Where there is no repression, there is nothing to lament, because we’re peaceful and we are remembering those who have lost their lives.
Below, an image showing the crowd of protesters, wearing white, on their way to their destination:
More images of the crowd in Caracas:
Once at their destination, the crowd hear speeches from opposition leaders. The image below shows human rights activist Lilian Tintori alongside other leaders speaking to the crowd on top of a car:
A video of the crowd at their destination:
La Patilla has more pictures of the demonstration here.
National Assembly vice-president Freddy Guevara ended the day with a tweet warning that the Maduro regime would say that today’s march was negotiatated with the opposition in exchange for holding regional elections. The regional elections were supposed to have taken place last year and were cancelled without explanation.
Below, Guevara’s tweet along with my translation:
Warning: The dictatorship is suggesting that today’s march was negotiated with them in exchange for regional elections. These are lies. Resistance continues.
Skirmishes Break Out in Caracas, Other Cities
While the main mass of opposition supporters in Caracas was not repressed directly by state authorities, sporadic confrontations between the two sides did break out throughout the day and are ongoing as of the writing of this post (7:00 PM EST). The video below shows an elderly woman, clearly in distress, being carried away by protesters as tear gas canisters fly by:
By the mid-afternoon, demonstrators in the Las Mercedes neighbourhood of the city were being repressed with tear gas:
The video below shows a demonstrator falling from the elevated portion of the Francisco Fajardo highway:
The video below shows demonstrators and authorities fighting in Las Mercedes:
Tear gas was also deployed to repress the march in the El Rosal neighbourhood near the Francisco Fajardo highway:
The two sides also squared off in the Bello Monte area of Caracas:
In the El Trigal neighbourhood of Valencia, Carabobo state, residents blocked a road with tree branches:
Below, a video showing unrest in El Trigal:
In Puerto Ordaz, Bolivar state, demonstrators disarm who they believe to be a regime militia member and burn his motorcycle:
Journalist Arrested; Whereabouts Unknown
Robinson Rojas, a journalist with the Caraota Digital news website, was arrested by authorities this afternoon while covering the demonstrations in Caracas. The National Syndicate of Press Workers (SNTP) issued a statement in which it said that Rojas had been “beaten” and detained under custody of the CICPC, one of Venezuela’s many police bodies.
However, the CICPC later told the SNTP that Rojas was not in fact in their custody. Rojas’ current whereabouts are unknown.
Rojas is the fourth journalist to be assaulted during today’s unrest.
Maduro Drives by Anti-Maduro Graffiti, Gets Awkward
Last night, Maduro recorded a video of himself driving in the Montalban area of Caracas with Minister of Education Elias Jaua, First Lady Cilia Flores, and Vice President Tarek El Aissami.
While driving through the neighbourhood, the El Aissami briefly captures anti-Maduro graffiti on a wall. The video, the slowed-down version of which was shared by a Twitter user named Yusnaby Perez, then abruptly ends with a half-acknowledgement of the graffiti.
The graffiti reads “Maduro asesino de estudiantes” [Maduro, killer of students].
Below, the video along with my translation:
Maduro: It’s 10:35 PM, isn’t it, Elias?
Jaua: Yes sir.
Maduro: Friday, February 21.
Jaua: It’s April.
Maduro: Ah! It’s April. We’re just leaving a meeting here in Montalban, as you can see, with some residents from La Vega, Montalban, from the neighbourhoods. They want peace. We’ve been talking about organizing a great movement of middle-class neighbours for peace against fascism, against the fascists and the coupists. A movement of national co-existence that is plural and diverse. Here’s Elias Juaua…
[Video cuts off, slow down begins]
Maduro: … Cilita la Bonita [a play-on-words that means, “Cilia the Beautiful”] — and here you can see their [the opposition’s] craziness. They’re harming people and families with their craziness. But peace will prevail!
El Aissami, Jaua, Flores: Amen!
Maduro: We will be victorious!
El Aissami, Jaua, Flores: Victorious!
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