After the Government showed some restraint all day yesterday in Caracas, mobilizing National Guard troops but not having them act, despite the widespread blocking of the highways and major street in Caracas, things changed last night.
First, in Valencia and San Cristobal, repression increased, tear gas was used and many were injured. In Valencia alone, there were seven people who were shot. One a former beauty queen was shot and died today, further incensing students.
Then today, as protests became widespread when opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez was supposed to be arraigned in Caracas, but was instead moved to a military facility in Los Teques where the arraignment was supposed to take place. This is not only illegal, but shows the political character of Lopez’ detention. While he has been jailed, none of those seen in pictures and videos killing the students on February 12th. have been detained. And the Head of the intelligence police was removed, but given another position,which could be considered a promotion.
By this afternoon, protests were blocking highways and major intersections all over Caracas, from Catia to Petare. The biggest concentration was in Plaza Altamira from where the Government mounted a huge attack with National Guards, police and “colectivos” in motorcycles. There were barricades all over the area but with time the Government thugs moved up to Altamira square. First they used tear gas, but by the end they were using cops and colectivos in motorcycles, shooting weapons, not only tear gas.
This is a video about a block from Plaza Altamira tonight:
this is another:
This was happening as Maduro gave a rambling speech in which he was aggressive and calling for peace at the same time and defending the “colectivos” as groups that work for the fatherland.
At this time, people have been shot in La Candelaria at this time of day, while protest have begun in Catia in Western Caracas. At least two people are reported to be shot dead in the west of Caracas.
Repression in San Cristobal, Tachira State, where the protests begun seems to be the worst. The Government shut off electricity and communications to the city as National Guard tanks went into it.
I stay very close to one of the hottest spots of repression. While I tried to watch parts of the action, it became dangerous. Students came into our parking lot seeking refuge from the guards who wanted to detain them. Fortunately they did not come in into our building, which they did all over the place. This is absolutely illegal.
I saw either police or guardsman go on the sidewalk on a motorcycle following students that were trying to escape from their attacks on the streets. They had some sort of rifle in their hand, either tear gas or a real gun. As repressive a scene as you could ever imagine.
This is not going to stop here. Students are becoming more radical, as the Government turns the repression an the human rights violations to an incredibly new level, without any shame. Maduro praising the colectivos tonight was simply a declaration that this Government is more than a dictatorship. It has now become one in which repressive violence will be openly used against the population that disagrees with or protests against the Government. This can only lead to further violence.
I find it hard to believe that there is no dissent within the Government about this new tack. Internationally, the repression together with the arbitrary detention of opposition figures has shown the world the true face of the Maduro Government, where appearances are no longer important.
And that is an image, the Government can not erase.
(This post was supposed to go on last night, but computer problems did not allow me to upload it, sorry).