Opposition supporters tried for the seventh time today to reach the People’s Defender office in western Caracas, and were for the seventh time violently repressed with tear gas and rubber pellets from state authorities. An overwhelming number of National Bolivarian Police (NBP) and National Guard (NG) forces stopped the opposition march on the Francisco Fajardo highway in the El Rosal neighbourhood of the capital city.
The day’s march unfolded in similar fashion to that of previous marches, with the bulk of the repression beginning at approximately 1:00 PM Caracas time. A 20-year-old university student named Juan Pablo Pernalete Llovera was killed in the unrest.
The image below shows demonstrators on the Francisco Fajardo highway early in the afternoon:
At around 12:30 PM local time, the main mass of demonstrators approached the Francisco Fajardo highway from the Santa Rosa and Santa Fe neighbourhoods:
By approximately 1:00 PM, the main mass of opposition protesters had made it onto the Francisco Fajardo highway. a line of National Guard soldiers in the El Rosal section of the highway began to fire tear gas at the crowd:
The video below shows panicked demonstrators fleeing clouds of tear gas on the highway:
Images from the repression on the highway:
The video below shows authorities advancing as protesters flee. The authorities are firing tear gas and using a high-pressure water cannon on the demonstrators. The video appears to have been recorded in Las Mercedes, south of the Guaire river, looking north:
Group of Protesters Headed by Lilian Tintori Dispersed with Tear Gas
A smaller group of demonstrators headed by human rights activist Lilian Tintori was dispersed with tear gas as it attempted to approach a security line near Plaza Venezuela.
Tintori was leading a small group of demonstrators with their arms raised in a gesture of peace when the security forces fired on them with tear gas. Below, a video showing the event:
A journalist named Ayatola Núñez was injured while covering the event there, likely due to a National Bolivarian Police officer firing a tear gas canister at his head:
Three More Killed in Unrest; Official Death Toll at 29
A 20-year-old university student named Juan Pablo Pernalete Llovera died in hospital shortly after he was hit directly by a tear gas canister fired by a National Guard solder in Altamira, a neighbourhood in Caracas. Llovera was struck on the left side of his chest by the metal canister at approximately 2:45 PM local time.
Pernalete had a YouTube comedy channel called No Es Asunto Tuyo [“None of Your Business”]. The channel contains short comedy skits starring Pernalete and a friend named Eduardo. In an introductory video posted nearly a year ago, Pernalete says that the channel’s “primary goal is to make our subscribers laugh”.
Later in the day, El Nacional reported that a 22-year old named Christian Humberto Ochoa Soriano died in the overnight hours in Valencia, Carabobo state, after he was shot by authorities during a demonstration in the city. Ochoa’s step-father, Eleazar Guerra, told the newspaper that the man had approached a crowd of opposition demonstrators in the Francisco de Miranda neighbourhood of the city when authorities arrived at the scene to disperse the crowd:
An officer approached him and shot him with rubber bullets.
The newspaper reports that the bullets “affected several of his internal organs”, causing his death.
While rubber bullets are known as “less-than-lethal” ammunition, they are capable of penetrating skin and have killed protesters in Venezuela in the past.
Earlier today, the governor of Tachira state, Jose Vielma Mora, announced that a 28-year-old named Efrain Sierra Quintero was shot in the stomach and killed during unrest in the state yesterday at noon. Vielma Mora said that Quintero was riding his motorcycle through a protest barricade when he was mortally wounded. He also said that Quintero was trying to clear the barricade in order to restore traffic to the street.
The two deaths bring the official death toll from the unrest that started on April 6 to 29.
Caracas Subway 100% Closed This Morning
The Maduro regime will often order the Caracas Subway System to partially close on days when the opposition schedules demonstrators in an attempt to hinder movement in the city. The closures typically affect anywhere between 50-60% of the system’s stations.
Venezuela Begins Withdrawal from the OAS
Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez announced late this afternoon that Venezuela would begin to formally withdraw from the Organization of American States (OAS). The move comes after the OAS held an extraordinary session today to discuss the Venezuelan crisis, during which it agreed to hold a meeting of member states’s foreign affairs ministers on the matter.
Venezuela threatened yesterday to withdraw from the regional diplomatic organization if the meeting went ahead.
Rodriguez made the announcement by saying:
Tomorrow, we will present our withdrawal letter to the OAS. This process will take 24 months.
Withdrawal from the OAS would require approval from the National Assembly, which is unlikely to happen. However, given the Maduro regime’s proven track-record of ignoring National Assembly decisions, the fact is unlikely to affect the measure.
Venezuela becomes the first country in the OAS’ 69-year history to willingly leave the organization. Cuba was effectively kicked out in 1962.
Rodriguez also gave a brief explanation for the withdrawal:
The [OAS’] governments are opposed to the Bolviarian Revolution, and opposed to the people of Venezuela.
Withdrawal Notice Follows OAS Meeting on Venezuela
Rodriguez’s notice of Venezuela’s withdrawal from the OAS came shortly after the organization’s permanent council held an extraordinary session in which it agreed to hold another meeting in the near future with all of the member states’ foreign affairs ministers.
The meeting signifies a step-up in the diplomatic pressure against the Maduro regime, given its systemic and continued violations against human rights in Venezuela.
The vote passed with 19 votes along the following lines:
- Voting YES on holding the meeting: Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, Caanda, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and the United States.
- Noting NO on holding the meeting: Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Ecuador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Venezuela.
- Abstentions: Belize, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago.
- Absent from the vote: Grenada.
Argentinian Foreign Affairs Minister Susana Malcorra spoke harshly about the Maduro regime prior to the vote. On the increasing number of dead from the unrest in Venezuela, Malcorra said:
The dead represent the most absolute failure of [regime] institutions and of its leaders, which have found it impossible to provide answers to the most basic needs of their citizens.
On the urgent need to push for democratic change in Venezuela, Malcorra said:
What more needs to happen for us to consider what is happening in Venezuela as serious?
Colombia Confirms Three Venezuelan Soldiers Seeking Asylum
The Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed today that Bogota was considering asylum requests from three deserters from the National Bolivarian Armed Forces on the grounds that the individuals are being persecuted by the Maduro regime.
El Nacional cited a source familiar with the case as saying:
At this moment their status is of refugee claimants, and while they hold this status and the analysis process is ongoing we cannot confirm that they will be [granted asylum] or that they will be repatriated.
El Nacional also reported that Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez has spoken on the case of the three individuals already, saying that the trio had called for the overthrow of the Maduro regime via a video.
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