Venezuelans answered the opposition’s call from yesterday to take to the streets of their cities and towns today, as roads across many urban centres large and small were flooded–and in some places, emptied–with demonstrators protesting against the Maduro regime for the 87th straight day.
As on virtually every other day of anti-regime protest action this year, security forces violently repressed the demonstrations that took place in the country today, firing tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters around the country.
Students near the Universidad Central de Venezuela campus in Caracas clashed with security forces throughout the afternoon:
in the El Paraiso neighbourhood of Caracas, National Guard soldiers chased protesters into the Multiplaza Mall. The soldiers fired tear gas into the shopping mall:
The Terrazas del Avila neighbourhood in Caracas also saw heavy clashes between demonstrators and security forces. The video below captured some of the scenes in that area at around 3:45 PM this afternoon:
Today’s protest action was called a trancazo, which roughly translates as “lock-down”. The idea of a trancazo is to reduce activity in the country, be it commercial or with respect to vehicular traffic.
At the height of the trancazo in the early afternoon, Caracas resembled a ghost town. The image below shows a stretch of the Francisco Fajardo highway–normally a busy central artery of the city–virtually desolate:
In Caracas, clashes lasted into the evening hours. The video below shows protesters facing off against security forces in the Miranda neighbourhood of the city past the 6:00 PM hour:
Clashes in Maracay Begin in the Early Morning
In the city of Maracay, Aragua state, clashes between demonstrators and security forces began in the early morning. By 9:00 AM local time, security forces had already deployed tear gas to disperse protesters in the Madre Maria neighbourhood of the city:
The video below shows protesters on the receiving end of tear gas in the same area of the city:
Another shot of tear gas shrouding the neighbourhood:
The head of the Vente Venezuela opposition party, Maria Corina Machado, tweeted in the mid-afternoon that a 17-year-old member of the Voluntad Popular party called Jofre (or Yofre) Rodriguez had been shot three times by pro-regime militias called, and that his status was “very serious”:
AG Diaz: Venezuela is a Police State
Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz said in an interview published today that Venezuela is a “police state” given the overt and overwhelming interference of the ruling party in the country’s judicial branch, a fact which she claims has resulted in the courts following orders from Maduro’s office.
Diaz singled out the Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional (SEBIN), Venezuela’s political police, as a key player in the police state. Diaz said:
Here, the buggy goes before the horse. The SEBIN gives orders to the judicial branch, which it follows. There is no rule of law here. This is a police state.
Speaking on the Constituent Assembly–a body set to convene in early August with the task of writing a new national constitution–Diaz said:
If the Constituent [Assembly] meets, Venezuelans would begin to live through the darkest hours of our republican history. If this project goes ahead, democracy would be definitively dismantled.
The attorney general, once a stalwart member of the ruling PSUV party, has broken away from the Maduro regime in recent months. She had made numerous statements to the media regarding what she considers to be Maduro’s authoritarian rule, and has acted to prosecute state officials accused of assaulting and/or killing protesters.
She is currently being impeached at the request of PSUV National Assembly deputy Pedro Carreño, who has argued publicly that Diaz’s recent anti-regime comments are evidence that she is insane.
On her public break from the Maduro regime, Diaz said:
The only thing that I want to do is defend our current Constitution and the rights of the citizen.
Maduro’s Son Candidate for Constituent Assembly
Maduro’s only son, Nicolas Ernesto Maduro Guerra, has officially become a candidate for the July 30 election for Constituent Assembly representatives. If elected, Maduro Jr. will play a role in writing a new national constitution.
Maduro Jr., who is 27 years old, announced his candidacy for the assembly by promising to work to “reform the state”, and by saying:
We’re going to have a National Constituent Assembly that is deeply democratic, citizen-driven, popular, and socialist. We ar going to reform the state.
Unlike the last time that Venezuela held a constituent assembly (which was in 1999 under Hugo Chavez), this time Maduro has refused to let Venezuelans vote in a referendum on whether they even want a new constitution. Public opinion polls suggest that the Constituent Assembly is overwhelmingly unpopular, and that most Venezuelans would not vote in favour of the process if the matter was put to a referendum.
Regime Looking to Hire 40,000 More Officers
Minister of the Interior Nestor Reverol announced today that the National Bolivarian Police (NBP) has recently recruited 19,410 young Venezuelans looking to join the body’s ranks, and that 6,000 new officers could join the force’s ranks as early as August.
Reverol also said that there are a total of 40,000 vacant positions spread equally between the NBP and the People’s Guard, which is a division of the National Guard.
The tweet below contains a video of Reverol watching a young NBP recruit running some drills earlier today:
The tweet reads:
20 thousand youths will join the NBP and 20 thousand others will join the [People’s Guard] to strengthen the national security services. [We are] building PEACE!
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