Chavez Government intervenes Caracas’ Metropolitan police

November 15, 2002

The Chavez administration has decreed the intervention of the Caracas Metropolitan police. The police is part of the office of the Metropolitan Mayor. Some police officers had been on strike for over a month to protest salary and working conditions, which the Mayor had said was politically motivated. On Tuesday protesting officers took over City Hall temporarily kidnapping the Mayor. Shots were fired and two peopel died and as mant as 23 were injured by gunshots. While the Government blamed the police for the violence, videos show that the shots were fired by protesters. The Government gave no justification for the intervention and place the National Guard in charge of the police. The Mayor of Caracas said he will seek an injunction today as the Government does not have the power to do what it did. For the opposition, this represents a severe blow as it has been the metropolitan police that has defended opposition marches from the agression of Chavez’ Bolivarian circles. The action may simply end the dialogue being promoted by Cesar Gaviria between the Goverment and the opposition and will make people wonder if it is a prelude to taking over Altamira Square where dissenting military officers continue their protest. The action also makes you wonder whether Chavez simply wants to provoke a coup at this time, given that he does not want to participate in any form of election.

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