Scattered protests broke out throughout the country today, as the year that 60% of Venezuelans consider to be the worst in their entire lives draws to a close.
In Caracas, several sector of the western part of the city are seeing unrest last into the night. In the Antimano neighbourhood of the city, some 200 residents blocked traffic through the area at approximately 8:30 PM local time. According to the authorities, the protest began out of frustration that the government’s promise to deliver Christmas hams has gone unfulfilled. Below, an image of the protest in Antimano:
The Maduro regime operates a network of food distribution called CLAP. The CLAP system is rife with corruption, and has been heavily criticized by regime critics and supporters alike for failing to meet its goals. Launched earlier this year, the CLAP system was heralded as an ambitious project that, on paper, would see food and basic necessities delivered to people’s homes directly from government warehouses.
In Antimano, a local CLAP official attempted to calm the crowd of hungry protesters:
In La Vega, also in western Caracas, blocked traffic through the La India roundabout. There, protesters were also demanding that the government make good on its promise to deliver food–and in particular, Christmas hams–through the CLAP network. Below, a video of the protest there:
The video below, taken in La Vega at 7:55 PM this evening, shows a large crowd of residents on the street:
The video below shows a group of demonstrators setting up a flaming barricade somewhere in La Vega. The woman speaking at the end of the video says, “You all let yourselves be bought [by the government] for Bs. 500,000 and a ham that you didn’t even get. I’m shitting myself with laughter”:
Maduro: Portugal “Sabotaged” Our Ham
Speaking during a televised event this afternoon, Maduro address the case of the missing ham by saying that the nation of Portugal was to blame for its absence from Venezuelan tables this Christmas.
The Maduro regime had promised to distribute pernil–a cut of pork that is a ubiquitous meal during the holidays–through its subsidized distribution network last month. That promise went largely unfulfilled, causing some of the unrest seen on the streets of the country recently.
On the case of the missing ham, Maduro said:
What happened with the ham? We were sabotaged. I can say that it was a country: Portugal. Everything was ready because we [the government] had bought all of the ham in Venezuela. We bought it all. But we had to import some, so I gave the order and signed all the payments. They went after our bank accounts, the two giant banks that were coming [sic] and they sabotaged us for now, but what they don’t know is that with or without sabotage these people will remain happy.
Maduro also launched a thinly-veiled threat, presumably at Portugal, saying that “we will settle the score soon”.
Protests Flare In Other States
Today also saw protests flare up in Sucre, Barinas and Bolivar states.
In Cumana, Sucre State, protesters placed piles of garbage on a road and lit them on fire to protest against chronic shortages of food and medicine. Traffic was blocked on the Carupano highway for much of the day. Below, images of the protest in Cumana earlier today:
In Barinas state, residents of the city of Barinas protested against the lack of food and cooking gas by blocking a local road with a flaming barricade. Below, an image from the protest there:
In Ciudad Guayana, Bolivar state, residents blocked the Atlantic Avenue over a lack of CLAP food. The clip below shows what appears to be a barricade in the foreground blocking traffic on a road:
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