Protesters in Caracas gathered near the La Carlota airfield on the Francisco Fajardo highway for the second day in a row, following the killing of a demonstrator named David Vallenilla by a National Guard soldier in the area on Thursday.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered on the stretch of the highway on which Vallenilla was killed, making today’s protest one of the largest that the city has seen in recent weeks.
The video below shows demonstrators on the highway with the La Carlota airfield in the background just before 2:00 PM local time:
Another shot of the protest at around the same time:
The video below shows security forces inside the airfield firing tear gas at the demonstrators near the perimeter fence:
La Patilla has more pictures of the repression the highway here.
The video below shows the remnants of the protest crowd retreating before advancing National Bolivarian Police officers and tear gas clouds. Note the large gaps in the airfield’s perimeter fence:
The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), the country’s official opposition bloc, condemned the fact that some demonstrators tore a hole in the airfield’s fence, accusing the culprits of being “infiltrators” from the regime who were attempting to give the opposition a bad name by engaging in vandalism.
Leopoldo Lopez: “They’re torturing me!”
Leopoldo Lopez, the leader of the Voluntad Popular (VP) party currently serving a 14 year prison sentence, claimed yesterday that he is being tortured in the Ramo Verde military facility in which he is being held.
Lopez, who is routinely held in isolation and not allowed to receive visits, made the allegation by shouting it from inside his prison cell yesterday to his wife, Lilian Tintori, who was standing just outside the prison’s gates
In the video below, Lopez can be heard making the allegation over the sound of sirens that the prison authorities turn on in order to prevent Lopez from communicating with people outside of the prison:
Lilian Tintori: Leo! What is he saying?
Leopoldo Lopez: Lilian! They’re torturing me! Let people know! Let people know!
Lilian Tintori: I shouted at Leopoldo [Leopoldo shouting: “Lilian! Let people know!”]
Prison authorities reacted to the allegations of torture by releasing their own video shortly after Tintori went public with the accusation yesterday afternoon.
In the video, Lopez can be seen looking through a bag that appears to contain food. The bag was allegedly brought to the prison by Tintori. Below, the video along with my translation:
Prison Guard: Today, June 23 2017, food has been brought to prisoner Leopoldo Eduardo Lopez Mendoza by his wife, Mrs. Lilian Tintori, so that he can eat.
Prison authorities at Ramo Verde will often record ad hoc videos to quell rumours about Lopez’s health. Most recently, the authorities released a video of Lopez on May 4 showing that he was alive after a rumour that he had been killed shook the country.
OAS Secretary General Offers to Resign in Exchange for Freedom
Two days ago, Maduro suggested that Venezuela could return to the Organization of American States on the condition that its current secretary general, Luis Almagro, resigns. Almagro has been one of the most outspoken voices against the Maduro regime on the international stage, so much so that Venezuela began the process of leaving the diplomatic body in April of this year.
In a video posted on his official Twitter account, Almagro responded to Maduro’s offer with his own: resignation in exchange for freedom in Venezuela. Below, Almagro’s video along with my translation:
Almagro: We [the OAS] have established principles and values when it comes to national and international matters. Many times, their absence where and when we need them is a source of sadness. That is the history of the international community. Silence is what allowed Hitler’s ascension, and the genocide in Rwanda.
The other day I said, “We must be strong in order to be coherent”. A people find strength from within themselves. I know that my voice is nightmarish to those who murder people on the streets and torture in dungeons, for those who violate fundamental freedoms and those who prefer silence and calm in the face of these crimes.
I know that Venezuelans rising up with dignity is a nightmare for the regime that oppresses them, and for those in the international community who prefer the “peace” that comes from intimidation and threats that comes from violating every one of the peoples’ rights. One day, that nightmare will end in a day in which the happiness felt by liberty will be felt.
But the [Organization of American States], there is no complicit silence. 20 countries have called on the regime to end the violence. Many of them have denounced [the regime] with their own voice during the General Assembly’s plenary meetings, practically echoing the voices of the Venezuelan people. Those of us who represent more than 90% of our American compatriots–Americans from the south, the centre, the north, and the Caribbean–have spoken up to denounce [the regime] and demand solutions.
Obviously, we also ask for respect to those countries that have not done this, because every country has the sovereignty to take whatever decisions it deems pertinent. Moreover, we must all continue to work together to build peace and democracy without impunity in this continent.
I have received a public request for negotiation: my resignation in exchange for Venezuela’s return to the OAS. This is my answer: I will resign as secretary general of the OAS when [Venezuela] holds free and transparent national elections with international observers and without restrictions, when every political prisoner listed by the Foro Penal Venezolano [an NGO that tracks political prisoners] is released and when everyone who has been exiled receives amnesty; when the powers of the National Assembly are recognized; when a humanitarian corridor is opened for food and medicine for the most marginalized Venezuelans, and when every murderer of protesters is tried, along with those in their chain of command. Also, [I will resign when] there is an independent Supreme Court, an independent National Electoral Council, and when the unconstitutional process that is the National Constituent Assembly is halted.
Unfortunately, Venezuela’s freedom requires many things. I will resign in exchange for liberty in Venezuela. We will never give up–we will never give up–until we have achieved liberty in Venezuela.
NGO: 1,247 People Currently in Prison for Protesting
The Foro Penal Venezolano [Venezuelan Penal Forum] (FPV), an NGO that tracks political prisoner statistics, announced today that there are currently 1,247 Venezuelans in prison for protesting against the Maduro regime.
The announcement came via the NGO’s director, Alfredo Romero, who cited the figure during a radio interview this morning on Union Radio.
Romero also said that the FPV has tallied 80 people killed during the unrest that has shaken the country since April 1. That estimate is higher than my own–which currently sits at 76 fatalities–as well as that of the Public Ministry, which has tallied 76 protest-related deaths since April 1.
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