Venezuelans locked down the streets of their cities today in what the opposition called the “Trancon de la Indignación” [roughly translated as “The Great Lock-down of Indignation”]. The national lockdown, which began at noon local time, was organized by the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), the country’s official opposition, in response to the shooting death of 22-year-old David Vallenilla in Caracas yesterday.
Vallenilla, a medial student, was shot in the throat by a National Guard soldier while he was protesting around the La Carlota airfield in the centre of Caracas yesterday afternoon.
In Caracas, protesters congregated near the spot where Vallenilla was killed yesterday just outside the security fence of the La Carlota airfield on the Francisco Fajardo highway in Caracas. The protesters also burned trucks on the highway to block traffic:
Below, another image from the scene:
At around 3:00 PM local time, protesters tore a hole on the airfield’s security fence:
Elsewhere in the city, National Bolivarian Police officers also clashed with protesters. The video below shows National Assembly deputy Richard Blanco on the receiving end of what appear to be rubber pellets fired by the officers somewhere in the city:
Vallenilla’s Father to Maduro: “You Know Me”
David Vallenilla Sr., the father of the protester by the same name killed in Caracas yesterday, spoke to reporters at the Bello Monte morgue in the capital today on the killing of his son.
Vallenilla Sr. told reporters that he was at one point a supervisor at the Caracas Subway System, and that he was at one point the boss of President Nicolas Maduro, who was at one point a bus driver. Vallenilla Sr. spoke directly to Maduro through the media, saying:
Nicolas [Maduro], you know me. I was your boss and you know that my son was wronged. He wasn’t a thug. He was a student, and that’s why I’m asking you for justice.
Vallenilla Sr. also told reporters that he had asked his son to not attend the anti-regime protests that have been taking place throughout the country since April 1 since they were dangerous.
He also said that his son had suffered a fractured foot that required a cast at a demonstration earlier this year, and that the cast had been removed just three days ago.
Vallenilla Was Set to Graduate on August 2
Vallenilla was a nursing student, and was scheduled to graduate on August 2 of this year. Mireya Hernandez, one of Vallenilla’s instructors at the Instituto Universitario de Tecnologia y Administracion (IUTA), spoke on Vallenilla’s death yesterday, saying:
We are deeply hurt by the death of our student, who was going to graduate on August 2. He was looking forward to his graduation with such hope, and they killed him because he wants a free country with opportunities for all youth.
He was going to pay for his graduation ceremony today. That’s all he was looking forward to. I wanted him to leave the country because his first paycheque was Bs. 30,000 and he was frustrated.
At the current black market rate, Bs. 30,000 is $3.62 US.
SEBIN Raids Opposition Leaders, “Kidnaps”
Officers from the Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional [National Bolivarian Intelligence Service] (SEBIN), the regime’s political police, raided a meeting of opposition leaders yesterday in the Altamira neighbourhood of Caracas.
La Patilla reports that the approximately 30 officers who conducted the raid arrested Aristides Moreno and Roberto Picon, both of whom work behind-the-scenes to help run the opposition’s political machinery.
The website also reports that the head of the Vente Venezuela opposition party, Maria Corina Machado, was assaulted by the officers, although she did not appear to have suffered serious physical injuries.
US Rejects Maduro’s Informal Call for Dialogue
The United States government has rejected Maduro’s informal call for a dialogue yesterday, and instead suggested that he should hold discussions “within Venezuela” to help solve the crisis affecting the country.
During a press conference yesterday, Maduro suggested that he was open to talks with anyone who wanted to talk to him, and named United States President Donald Trump as a possible talk partner.
An anonymous source inside the United States Department of States told Spain’s EFE:
We are keeping up with President Maduro’s comments. We recommend that he involve himself in discussions within Venezuela to resolve the political, economic and humanitarian crisis.
The source went on to outline a path that a dialogue between the opposition and regime could take:
The government should reach an agreement with the opposition parties about a schedule for holding elections quickly, respect the Constitution and the National Assembly, immediately and unconditionally free all political prisoners, and attend to the humanitarian needs of Venezuelans.
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