Venezuelans protested today once more to demand a peaceful political transition away from the Maduro regime through free, fair and transparent elections. The protests took place in cities across the country, and were the largest in Venezuela since the ones that took place on January 23 of this year.
In Caracas, protesters marched to the Las Mercedes area of the city where interim president Juan Guaido was set to speak in the early afternoon.
The video below shows a group of demonstrators marching to Las Mercedes early this morning:
Another group on their way to the rally point:
Shortly before noon, a large group of protesters was already at Las Mercedes waiting for Guaido:
In the video below, the crowd in Las Mercedes chants Guaido’s name:
The demonstrators in Las Mercedes singing the national anthem:
There were demonstrations throughout the rest of the country as well.
In Barquisimeto, Lara state, a large group of demonstrators convinced a unit of National Bolivarian Police officers to withdraw without confrontation. At the end of the video, one of the soldiers hugs a protester while the man recording says, “excellent, brother!”:
A video of demonstrators in Maracay, Aragua state at around 10:30 AM:
Demonstrators gathered in Valencia, Carabobo state:
Below, demonstrators in Upata, Bolivar state:
At one point during today’s event in Caracas, Guaido’s convoy was stuck in traffic. Guaido stood up from inside his vehicle and waved to the crowd of demonstrators from an overpass:
Guaido Announces International Aid Staging Points
During his speech in Las Mercedes, Guaido announced that humanitarian aid destined for Venezuela would begin to be staged in three different locations. Guaido gave only one specific location (Cucuta, Colombia), and said that the other two points would be in “Brazil”, while the third would be in “an island in the Caribbean”.
Guaido said that getting humanitarian aid into the country is the “first stage” of the transition towards democracy, and warned that “there are between 250,000 and 300,000 Venezuelans at risk of death” if the aid does not enter.
Colombian president Ivan Duque confirmed after Guaido’s speech that he had been in communication with him, and that:
… I told him that Colombia is committed to [provide] all of the humanitarian aid needed for our brothers and sisters in Venezuela.
Duque also said that Colombia’s humanitarian effort would be coordinated from Cucuta.
Regime Holds Simultaneous Event in Caracas
On the Bolivar Avenue in Caracas, the Maduro regime held its own event at the same time as the opposition-organized protests took place.
Below, images from that event:
In the video below, Maduro waves a Venezuelan flag to the crowd:
During the event, Maduro said that the opposition-controlled National Assembly was in “crisis”, and that he was considering moving the parliamentary elections scheduled for 2020 to this year.
Air Force Division Commander Defects
Early this morning, a video surfaced on Twitter showing a man claiming to be Air Force Division General Francisco Estéban Yánez Rodríguez renouncing the Maduro regime and recognizing Juan Guaido as president of Venezuela.
Below, the video along with my translation:
Rodriguez: Good morning, people of Venezuela. I am Division General Francisco Estéban Yánez Rodríguez, Director of Strategic Planning at the National Bolivarian Air Force High Command. I am speaking to you to let you know that I do not recognize the irrita (roughly, “wrong”) and dictatorial authority of Nicolas Maduro, and recognize deputy Juan Guaido as interim president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
People of Venezuela, 90% of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces do not support the dictator. They are with the people of Venezuela. Due to the developments of the last few hours, the transition to democracy is imminent. To continue to order the armed forces to continue to repress the people is to continue with deaths from hunger, disease, and–god forbid–from fighting among ourselves. This people has suffered enough.
My democratic colleagues in Grupo Cuatro [literally, “Group Four”. I think this is in reference to a military unit?] have told me that the dictator has two planes on standby all day. Let him leave!
I invite everyone in Venezuela to peacefully take to the streets to defend our president, Juan Guaido.
To my brothers in arms: I ask that you do not show your back to the Venezuelan people. Do not repress more. If you are afraid to express yourself due to the infinite threats that we receive inside the armed forces, it’s better that you stay at home.
The time for our homeland has come. The time for democracy has come. Go out and support our president, Juan Guaido.
Let us triumph, for a democratic Venezuela!
Shortly after the video was released, Rodriguez’s profile still appeared on the official Air Force website. Below, Rodriguez’s profile as it appeared this morning, along with his rank and role:
A few hours later, however, the Air Force page was updated, and all trace of Rodriguez was removed from the page. Here is how the page appears now:
Click here to view an archived snapshot of the page to view it as it appeared before Rodriguez’s profile was deleted.
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