Francisco Toro from Caracas Chronicles published an article today calling attention to the lack of repression in the country yesterday despite the fact that thousands of people took to the streets of cities across the country.
The article is based on an announcement made last night by Alfredo Romero, the head of the Foro Penal Venezolano (FPV), a Venezuelan NGO that provides legal services to victims of regime repression. Romero’s announcements at the end of a day of protest have been used to announce how many people have been detained during the day, and sometimes how many have been killed or injured.
Below, Romero’s announcement from yesterday:
#2Feb Report from the [Foro Penal] at 8:00 PM: There were no recorded events at any demonstration in #Venezuela. There have been no reports of detentions or other incidents.
While Romero’s announcement is only confirmation that the FPV did not receive any reports of violence/detentions–that is, an event could have occurred but it was not reported–it is noteworthy nonetheless given the prominence of his office and the historically repressive nature of the regime.
As Toro puts it:
In previous bouts of protests, back in 2014 and 2017, Foro Penal’s end-of-day tweets became a grim ritual—reporting, in cold hard numbers, the protest day’s toll: so many arrested, so many clashes with the security forces, so many injured and, yes, so many dead. I came to dread them— each number, I knew, was unsuited for the task of representing the human pain it reported.
Toro speculates that the Maduro regime did not order its security forces to repress yesterday’s protests because doing so would have been “too risky”. According to Toro, this is because the regime realizes that its security forces are likely to ignore such an order.
What comes next is clear. The security forces’ passivity in the face of mass protests yesterday is an unprecedented show of weakness for the regime. Push them farther, harder and you’ll end up putting Maduro in an impossible position: screwed if he doesn’t give the order to repress, because protests are simply too big, and too close to him, and screwed if he does, because chances are very high they won’t be followed.
Yes, there are still risks. But they’re diminishing. Yes, a miscalculation could still send
the protest movement haywire. But that scenario looks much less probable today than this time yesterday. Yes, prudence is still important. But so is daring.
Trump Rules Out Meeting Maduro, Won’t Discount Military Attack
U.S. President Donald Trump has said in a CBC interview that Maduro asked him to meet in person, but that he “turned it down” because “we’re very far along in the process”. Trump said that Maduro asked him for the meeting “a number of months ago”.
Below, the transcript of the relevant section of the interview from CBS:
MARGARET BRENNAN: Would you personally negotiate with Nicolás Maduro to convince him to exit?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well he is requested a meeting and I’ve turned it down because we’re very far along in the process. You have a young and energetic gentleman but you have other people within that same group that have been very very – if you talk about democracy – it’s really democracy in action.
MARGARET BRENNAN: When did he request a meeting?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We’re going to see what happened. A number of months ago he wanted to meet.
Asked what would need to happen for the U.S. military to become involved in Venezuela, Trump said that “it’s an option” without giving specifics.
Trump said that the recent protests in Venezuela were “very very big [and] tremendous”.
Maduro Continues Military Base Tour
Maduro continued his now-familiar tour of military bases. Today, Maduro visited the Turiamo navy base in Aragua state.
Below, images from his visit:
#SaidBy [President Nicolas Maduro] “Today we decide the future of Venezuela. If Venezuela becomes a start on the [U.S.] flag or if it will continue to wave its three colours and eight free and sovereign stars”
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