Venezuelans took to the streets of the country today in the 97th consecutive day of anti-regime protests. The day unfolded with grim familiarity, as National Guard soldiers and National Bolivarian Police officers violently repressed demonstrations around the country.
In Caracas, security forces fired tear gas and rubber pellets at protesters, with most of the clashes taking place around the Francisco Fajardo highway, and in the neighbourhoods of Chacao and Las Mercedes.
The video below shows protesters and National Guard soldiers fighting on the Las Mercedes bridge:
Those who did not want to engage the state forces fled the area:
More footage of the fighting in Las Mercedes:
Once the protesters had been cleared from the bridge by the mid-afternoon, National Bolivarian Police officers began to remove barricades in the area:
The security forces’ indiscriminate use of tear gas has been a common fixture in protests dating back years. In the video below, a six-year-old homeless child is treated for tear gas exposure:
At one point, security forces in the capital entered the Sambil shopping mall in the Chacao neighbourhood of the capital and fired tear gas inside the building, sending shoppers–among them children and the elderly–into a panic.
The video below shows National Bolivarian Police officers congregating outside of the mall’s entrance. The video then cuts off to footage from inside the mall, were thick clouds of tear gas forced panicked shoppers to flee to the mall’s upper floors:
Another video of the tear gas attack on the mall:
At least 45 people who were inside the mall at the time of the attack were treated at a nearby medical centre for tear gas exposure.
The clashes were not limited to Caracas. In Lecherias, Anzoategui state, protesters set fire to a bus. El Nacional reports that several people have been injured in the fighting that took place there throughout the day:
Caracas Sees Long Night of Clashes
Last night, security forces clashed with residents of Caracas at several points across the city. Armed pro-regime civilian militias known locally as colectivos armados [literally, “armed groups”] were also active throughout the city.
The video below was recorded shortly after the National Guard tore down the gate of a residential complex in the neighbourhood of El Paraiso. Residents of the complex responded to the attack by engulfing a National Guard armoured truck in flames with Molotov cocktails:
The video below shows a National Guard truck retreating after coming under attack in the San Juan neighbourhood of the city:
The video below, taken later in the night, captured the sounds of chaos that engulfed the San Juan neighbourhood. Heavy gunfire–allegedly coming from colectivos armados–can be heard throughout the video while residents yell curses at the militias:
Shadow Deputy AG Denied Access to Public Ministry Building
Katherine Harrington, the shadow deputy attorney general appointed to the position by the Supreme Court two days ago, was denied access to the Public Ministry building today as she attempted to begin her duties.
Harrington’s appointment by the Supreme Court, which is illegal under Venezuelan law, was immediately rejected by attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz, who also said that she did not recognize Harrington has her deputy. On Monday, one day prior to Harrington’s appointment, the National Assembly ratified the appointment of Rafael Gonzalez as deputy attorney general following the proper legal procedure.
Article 25 of the Ley Organica del Ministerio Publico [Public Ministry Law] states that the deputy attorney general is appointed directly by the serving attorney general, and that the National Assembly alone has the power to ratify the appointment. In declaring Harrington the deputy attorney general, the Supreme Court violated the law at least twice: once by usurping the power of the attorney general to name his or her own deputy, and once by usurping the power of the National Assembly to ratify the appointment.
The video below captured the scene outside of the Public Ministry has Harrington unsuccessfully attempted to enter the building this morning:
Harrington, who is arguably most famous for having been sanctioned by the U.S. government in 2015 for committing human rights abuses, told reporters outside of the Public Ministry this morning why she thinks she is qualified for her new role:
I started out as a legal assistant, then as an adjunct lawyer, back-up prosecutor, national prosecutor. I didn’t just show up here. These are the qualities that the Supreme Court took into account when they named me [deputy attorney general].
Allup, Borges Claim Regime Planned Attack on National Assembly
National Assembly deputy Henry Ramos Allup spoke today on the attack on the National Assembly yesterday, and claimed that the event had been planned carefully by the Maduro regime. Allup made the comments during the Vladimir a la 1 interview show.
Speaking on Union Radio this morning, National Assembly president Julio Borges said:
What happened yesterday happened because the government ordered. There were politicians and workers from the Caracas municipality [which is under PSUV control], and there were candidates from Maduro’s Constituent [Assembly].
Borges said that the attack “got out of hand”, which likely caught the regime by surprise. Borges also said that the attack serves as a taste of things to come if Maduro has his way and is able to re-write the national constitution via the Constituent Assembly.
123 Soldiers Arrested For Treason, Rebellion and Desertion Since April 1
RunRun.Es reported today that at least 123 National Bolivarian Armed Forces soldiers have been arrested since April 1 in what is believed to be a host of alleged crimes stemming from the ongoing protests against the Maduro regime. The charges against the soldiers range from desertion to rebellion and treason.
Citing military documents obtained by Reuters, the website claims that 40 soldiers have been arrested “for rebellion, treason or insubordination” since the protests against the Maduro regime began.
The same documents reveal that 90 of the soldiers arrested in April 1 are being held in the Ramo Verde military prison south of Caracas, while the rest are split between the Pica prison near the city of Maturin and the Santa Ana prison in western Tachira state.
On Monday, Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino Lopez admitted that there were “many” soldiers in the armed forces thinking about rebellion, but was convinced that their plots would not succeed. Padrino Lopez said:
There are many [soldiers] out there looking [to start a rebellion] (…) “little Rambos” here in the armed forces, but they won’t succeed.
Almagro Calls for Extraordinary OAS Session for Tomorrow
The secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, has called for an extraordinary session of the OAS’ permanent council tomorrow to discuss the ongoing Venezuelan crisis.
Almagro’s call appears to have been motivated by the attack on the National Assembly yesterday, in which pro-regime militias known as colectivos armados broke into the legislature and brutally beat several opposition deputies and other workers.
Maduro Threatens Workers to Vote in Constituent Assembly Election
Speaking at an event promoting the upcoming July 30 election for the Constituent Assembly, Maduro threatened the country’s workers into voting in the process by saying that he would check the electoral roll to make sure that everyone had in fact voted.
In a televised speech this afternoon, Maduro said:
At the end of the day, [we will] go over the electoral roll. If there are 15,000 workers, 15,000 workers should vote, no excuses. Company by company, ministry by ministry, state by state, municipality by municipality.
The thinly-veiled threat is reminiscent of the infamous Tascon List episode, which contained the names of at least three million people who signed a petition in favour of recalling Hugo Chavez in 2003. The list was subsequently made public by a ruling-party National Assembly deputy. The Venezuelan government then used the list to fire public employees and discriminate against individuals whose names appeared on the list.
During the same address, Maduro also suggested a strategy that workers can use on July 30 to make sure that they get out to vote:
Go with your whole family. If you’re working that day, a co-worker can cover for you so that you can go vote.
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