Venezuelans mourned yesterday’s killing of 26-year-old Miguel Castillo Bracho during a ceremony in Caracas today that ended at the spot in the Las Mercedes neighbourhood where Castillo was killed. Castillo was shot while protesting against the Maduro regime yesterday.
The ceremony mourning Castillo’s killing began on the grounds of Castillo’s high school, San Ignacio de Loyola. The video below shows mourners at the school while a school band plays the national anthem:
The mourners then marched from the high school to the spot in the Las Mercedes neighbourhood where Castillo was shot and killed yesterday. Some helped carry the high school’s flag:
Below, a video of mourners as they set off from the San Ignacio de Loyola high school to Las Mercedes:
The video below shows the march as it made its way through the Chacao neighbourhood. People sang liturgical songs as they marched:
Once in Las Mercedes, the tearful goodbye to Castillo took place on the spot on which he died a day earlier:
National Assembly vice president Freddy Guevara was at the ceremony in which people placed flours and wrote messages on the pavement. Guevara’s tweet reads: “Miguel, standing on the spot on which your life was stolen, we assure you that this struggle will not be in vain. Soon we will achieve change in Venezuela”:
Castillo’s mother spoke to reporters at the event. Below, a brief video with part of her message:
Carmen: … put an end to the violence and stop killing our youth for thinking differently. The only thing that Miguel wanted was a free country where he could exercise his communications major. The only thing that he wanted was…
Castillo Killed by Ball Bearing
El Universal, citing sources inside the Servicio Nacional de Medicina Forense [National Forensic Medicine Service] (SENAMEF), published an article today in which it revealed that Castillo was killed by “a metal sphere fired at high speed, likely from a shotgun”.
The same article explains that the ball bearing entered Castillo’s body through his left arm before becoming lodged in his heart’s left ventricle, killing him instantly.
The El Universal article included this image of the ball bearing that claimed Castillo’s life:
National Bolivarian Police officers are not armed when on protest-policing duties. National Guard soldiers are armed only with tear gas rifles and shotguns, from which they are only supposed to fire rubber pellets.
Seniors Set to March Tomorrow
Venezuela’s senior citizens are set to march tomorrow in a demonstration titled “Por Nuestros Nietos” [For Our Grandchildren. In Caracas, the demonstration will rally at the Plaza Brion in Chacaito and attempt to march to the People’s Defender office in western Caracas. Below, the promotional poster for the event:
Every one of the opposition’s dozen or so attempts to march into western Caracas have been violently repressed by security forces with tear gas and rubber bullets. Several of those attempts have had the People’s Defender office specifically as their destination.
The Federacion Nacional de Jubilados y Pensionados de Venezuela [National Federation of Retirees and Pensioners] spoke today on the possibility that their march tomorrow will face violent repression from official authorities. In a joint press conference held alongside the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), National Assembly deputy Arnoldo Benitez said:
We do not believe that the government will make the mistake of blocking our way. We want to tell President Nicolas Maduro and [Minister of the Interior] Nestor Reverol: do not even think about repressing [the march], because otherwise the entire world will really find out how this tyranny acts in order to remain in power.
15+ Injured in Protests in Merida
The towns of Timotes, El Vigia, Mucuruba, Mucuchies and Pueblo Llano in Merida state were the sites of protests and confrontations with authorities today, leaving at least 15 protesters injured. El Nacional reports that the injuries were caused by rubber pellets fired by National Guard soldiers.
The protests in the area featured guarimbas, which are barricades built across roads with rubble, tree branches and garbage bags. While the guarimbas featured predominantly in the 2014 protests, they have not played as large a role in the unrest of this year.
Below, barricades somewhere in Merida earlier today:
In Pueblo Llano, protesters build a formidable barricade by guarimba standards:
Protesters also blocked roads with their bodies, as this image from El Vigia shows:
PSUV Councilors Remove Opposition Mayor from Position
The mayor of the Irribarren municipality in Barquisimeto, Lara state has been removed from his position by the PSUV-controlled city council. Alfredo Ramos, who belongs to the Causa R opposition party, called the move “unconstitutional” and told media that the city council does not have the power to remove the mayor at will.
According to Ramos, the reason for his removal has to do “with the protests that have been happening in Barquisimeto”. The city has seen a considerable amount of unrest over the last month, including at least four protest-related fatalities.
Ramos told Union Radio that his next move would be to file a lawsuit against the city councilors who removed him from office:
Tomorrow we are going to mobilize at 9:00 AM from city hall until the courthouse in order to launch a lawsuit against the councilors who voted for this [illegal measure] during today’s session.
If Ramos’ allegations are correct, this would not be the first time that the PSUV has removed opposition mayors from their positions using protests as an excuse. In 2014, Enzo Scarano, the mayor of San Diego in Carabobo state, was removed from his post and sentenced to prison under similar circumstances, as was Daniel Ceballos, the mayor of San Cristobal in Tachira state.
Survey: 72.9% Say Maduro is a Dictator
The results of a survey from the More Consulting polling firm released earlier this week show that Venezuelans overwhelmingly see Maduro as a dictator, and that a growing number of people are joining the opposition in its struggle against the regime.
- 72.1% of respondents have a negative opinion of Maduro’s term in office (“bad” or “terrible”), while only 13% have a positive opinion (“good” or “excellent”).
- 71.1% of respondents believe that Maduro should leave office in 2017 “by resigning, general elections, or being recalled”.
- 72.9% of respondents qualify Maduro’s government as a dictatorship.
- 22.1% of respondents have participated in anti-government protests [Note: this isn’t clear from the article, but I believe that this question asked specifically about the protests that started roughly on April 1].
- 48% of respondents qualify people who participate in protests as “brave”, while 22% qualify protesters as “heroes”.
- 94% agree that the goal of the protests should be to force the government to hold general elections this year.
On the Communal Constituent Assembly:
- 68.8% of respondents disagree with Maduro’s call for a “Communal Constituent Assembly”, while only 25.5% agree.
- 84% believe that the Venezuelan people, not Maduro, should be the ones who decide if a Constituent Assembly takes place.
The survey also found a surge of support for the opposition. While a January survey placed support for the opposition at 33% in January, this survey found that 54.5% of respondents have a positive opinion of the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica.
Venezuelan Embassy Event in Madrid Crashed by Anti-Regime Protesters
Hundreds of Venezuelan expatriates protested outside of the Venezuelan cultural centre in Madrid today, banging pots and chanting anti-regime slogans in front of the building. The protesters gathered in front of the building in response to a pro-regime event organized by the Venezuelan embassy that was scheduled to take place today.
The video below shows protesters banging pots and shouting “Asesinos!” [Murderers!] in front of the embassy:
Another shot of the scene:
Maduro Sacks Minister of Health After Abysmal Report
Following an official Ministry of Health report indicating spikes of 30% and 65% in the infant and maternal mortality rates in 2016, respectively, Maduro has removed Antonieta Caporale as the country’s top health authority and replaced her with an Aragua state health official named Luis Falerfi Lopez Chejade.
The sacking went almost unnoticed. It was only after opposition figure Jesus “Chuo” Torrealba called attention to the written order removing Caporale from her position, which became official yesterday, that the national media picked up the story. Maduro typically announces cabinet appointments and removals on television.
Caporale held the position for only five months.
Venezuela is currently experiencing the worst health crisis in its modern history. Chronic shortages of medicine and medical supplies have led to a collapse of the country’s healthcare system. Despite these facts, the Maduro regime refuses to admit that the country is experiencing a humanitarian crisis.
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