Venezuelans carried the protests against the regime of president Nicolas Maduro today into their 4th month as tens of thousands of citizens took to the streets of cities across the country today.
One of the themes of today’s protest action was to show support for attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz, who heads the Public Ministry and has recently become an outspoken critic of the regime’s abuses against human rights and the rule of law.
In the capital, protesters marched from the Plaza Altamira along the Francisco de Miranda avenue down to the neighbourhood of Los Ruices, where they heard speeches from political figures.
One of the speakers at the rally in Los Ruices was National Assembly deputy Richard Blanco, who called on Venezuelans to overcome their fear of the regime’s increasingly brutal repression. Blanco said:
No one can be afraid here. Fear is not allowed here. Venezuela will remain on the streets until this disgrace leaves Miraflores [the Presidential Palace].
Thousands of people attended the march in Caracas. The image below shows the crowd filling the Francisco Fajardo highway:
Below, more pictures of the demonstration in Caracas:
There were also relatively small skirmishes between security forces and protesters in the Plaza Altamira throughout the afternoon. El Nacional reports that “several people” were injured and arrested in the area, and that the authorities ordered all press to vacate the area of the plaza.
In the video below, a National Bolivarian Police unit patrols the plaza at around 5:00 PM:
Below, images of National Guard soldiers and National Bolivarian Police officers in action in Altamira this afternoon:
The video below shows a National Bolivarian Police officer smashing Molotov cocktails abandoned by protesters in Altamira:
There were protests and clashes elsewhere in the country, too. In the Bocono municipality of Tachira state, regime militias and state security forces attacked an opposition demonstration, causing a tense confrontation between the two sides.
Regime militias, with the help of state security forces, erected barricades and launched tear gas at the protesters in order to prevent them from marching to their destination.
Below, images of the commotion in Bocono:
Attorney General Thanks Venezuelans, Int’l Supporters
Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz wrote a pair of tweets this afternoon in which she expressed gratitude for the support that she has received both from Venezuelans and from the international community alike.
At the same time, Ortega Diaz called on all Venezuelans to help “defend the Constitution” against the ongoing systematic abuses that it faces from the Maduro regime.
Below, the two tweets along with my translation:
I am thankful for the support of the Venezuelan people and that of international organizations. Your trust strengthens our institutional struggle.
EVERY Venezuelan must work to defend the Constitution and in the [Public Ministry] we are committed to human rights and democratic freedoms.
As attorney general since 2007, Ortega Diaz has precised over the Public Ministry throughout some of the must stunning abuses against the rule of law of both the Chavez and Maduro regimes, including the arrest and trial of Leopoldo Lopez.
However, in recent months, Ortega Diaz has had a public break from the Maduro regime, and has repeatedly condemned human rights and other abuses in that time.
The Maduro regime has responded to Ortega Diaz’s defection by launching an impeachment proceeding against her, and by freezing all of her assets in the country and banning her from leaving Venezuela.
Total Death Toll in Barquisimeto Colectivo Rampage Climbs to Four
Yesterday, a pro-regime militia known in Venezuela as a colectivo armado [“armed group”] went on a rampage through the city of Barquisimeto, Lara state, attacking a clinic, breaking into homes and likely killing at least one person.
By the end of the day, four people had been killed during the chaos in the city.
Aside from the two deaths reported in yesterday’s update, two more people where killed during the violence that shook the city: Jose Gregorio Mendoza Duran (44) and Ramses Enrique Martinez (20). Martinez was injured during the unrest in Barquisimeto yesterday, and died today in the early morning hours.
89 people have been killed since anti-regime protests began in the country on April 1.
Governor of Lara State: PSUV Responsible for Colectivo Violence
The governor of Lara state, Henri Falcon, spoke today on the colectivo violence that claimed the lives of four people and brought terror to the streets of Barquisimeto, the state capital, for most of the day yesterday.
Falcon accused Jesus Superlano, a state PSUV politician, for directly controlling the regime militias in Lara, and said that he had evidence to prove it.
On the violence in Barquisimeto yesterday, Falcon said:
This Friday was one of the darkest days for Lara state. We mourn the deaths of four Venezuelans at the hands of this violence, and we denounce the presence of paramilitary units controlled by councilor Superlano under the protection of the national government.
Falcon also said that the colectivo that ran amok in Barquisimeto yesterday moved through the city in vehicles registered to the national government. He also said that the state’s colectivo groups use Corpolara (a corporation owned by the national government) facilities to organize their activities.
On the anti-government movement more generally and his opinion on the way forward from the crisis, Falcon said:
We must find a solution, an agreement that will take us to a transition towards a national unity government… that understands the reality that is a people who want stability, peace, and that today want food and medicine. That same people asks for understanding from its political leaders…
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