Fernando Alban, an opposition politician in regime custody since Friday, died under suspicious circumstances this evening after allegedly jumping out of a window in Caracas while in custody.
The Maduro regime concluded immediately after the fact that Alban committed suicide, although it offered contradictory versions of his death. While Attorney General Tarek William Saab first announced that Alban had jumped out of a 10 story building in the SEBIN’s Plaza Venezuela headquarters, Minister of the Interior Nestor Reverol later said that Alban had jumped out of a window in a waiting room.
It is not clear at this time which of the two stories is the official one.
Because the SEBIN did not present an arrest warrant at the time of Alban’s arrest, and because they did not notify anyone about his detention, it is not known why he was arrested. Efecto Cocuyo, citing “unofficial sources”, is claiming this evening that Alban was detained in connection to the August 4 drone attack against Maduro.
The opposition claims that Alban was arrested because he participated in last month’s United Nations General Assembly, where he spoke on some of the regime’s human rights violations in the country.
Alban was taken into custody on Friday by officers from the regime’s political police, the SEBIN. Alban’s loved ones initially thought he had been kidnapped, since as per standard procedure the officers who arrested him did not identify themselves, and did not reveal the location to which they were taking him.
Alban’s Colleagues Call Suicide Theory Impossible
Outside of the SEBIN building in Plaza Venezuela, Alban’s personal secretary cried in the arms of a man, and claimed that Alban did not kill himself. Below, that video along with my translation:
Woman: People don’t react. They don’t react, you know? He went to Church, [unintelligible] the worst sin, but he didn’t do it! He didn’t kill himself! They killed him! They killed him!
A woman who worked with Alban expressed a similar sentiment, stressing that Alban would not have committed suicide. She said:
Woman: My brother-in-arms, my democrat brother. That was Fernando Alban. He was the nicest man in Venezuela. All he did was work for his community. He spent all his time with [unintelligible]. They’ll tell you of all the work that Fernando Alban did.
He would never take his own life. He was the most principled man we had. He was Catholic. This is the cruelest lie that this government [has told].
Journalist: You don’t believe that version [of events]?
Woman: Of course not! He was the most Catholic out of all of us. That is a lie! No one will believe that. This was an act of evil. They murdered him.
Striking Workers Shut Off Roads to Ciudad Guayana, Puerto Ordaz
Striking industrial workers from Ciudad Guayana shut off access to Puerto Ordaz this morning by setting up barricades and blockading roads in and out of the city.
According to El Nacional, the first barricades came up at around 4:00 AM in the form of flaming tires. One of the workers told the newspaper the reason behind the protest:
We want our salaries, collective bargaining contracts and our tabulador [literally, “tabulator”–i think this means “salary increase scale”], everything that they have taken from us. We can’t eat anything with 500 [BsS.]. It’s not enough to buy food, medicine, nothing.
In the image below, protesters mill around on a road near the city.
Workers blocking the road by flaming tire barricade:
The video below shows a bus that was set ablaze by protesters to block a road:
More images of protesters blocking a major road underneath an overpass:
UCV Workers Block Access to University
Workers at the Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV) also staged a protest today, blocking access to the campus in central Caracas.
The workers are striking due to the fact that their collective bargaining agreement is not being honoured, as well as other grievances regarding working conditions.
For example, Eduardo Sanchez–the head of the UCV worker’s union–said that parts of the university have not had electricity for eight months.
In the image below, striking workers stand together on campus this morning:
In the two images below, striking workers block access to the university at the Tamanaco gate, which connects the campus to Caracas through Plaza Venezuela:
September Salary Increase Already Obsolete
The workers’ strike in Ciudad Guayana is indicative of the fact that the salary increase that Maduro decreed starting on September 1 of this year has already been made obsolete by hyperinflation.
A woman named Masiel Malave who has worked with the Ministry of Education for 35 years told Cronica Uno about the struggle that is trying to survive on her month’s earnings, which is BsS. 2,150 or approximately $20.77 at the current black market rate.
The salary doesn’t last the month. Moreover, I had to wait three hours in line to buy chicken. It’s tiring and frustrating.
The article goes on to point out that the inflation rate in August hit 223.1%, according to the National Assembly, which translated to an average daily price increase of 4%. Earlier today, the National Assembly released its September inflation update, placing last month’s rate at 233.3%.
Just a few days ago, Maduro bragged on television that the September 1 salary increase was having an unprecedented effect on the pocketbooks of Venezuela. He said:
Now… people are going out on the weekends and overflowing supermarkets and markets in Venezuela, shopping.
Marlene Sifontes, who works with the Sindicato Unitario Nacional de Empleados del Instituto Nacional de Parques [United National Syndicate of Workers at the National Park Institute] told the publication that she spent her monthly salary on four rolls of toilet paper, a bar of soap, a stick of butter, and a carton of eggs. She said that today, she would not be able to afford the same items given the rise in their prices.
Sifontes said that aside from not earning enough to survive, she–along with her colleagues–have difficulty even getting paid at all. She said:
We spent practically one month living on what they paid us in August, which was three million bolivares fuertes [the old currency, which is now BsS. 30] and the food subsidy of Bs. 2,196,000 [BsS. 21.96]. Of course, by the time we got paid, everything was already really expensive.
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