Venezuelans Denounce Right-Wing Attacks on Small Business
By Staff Writers, teleSUR
Saturday, Apr 15, 2017
|Hector Rodriguez, PSUV lawmaker, looks at a vehicle destroyed by vandals on Thursday night in Los Teques. | Photo: Reagan Des Vignes / teleSUR|
The Miranda state government — led by right-wing opposition leader Henrique Capriles — was reportedly complicit in the violence.
Violent opposition protests resulted in damage and destruction to numerous small businesses in the city of Los Teques on Thursday night, with an estimated 10 stores selling alcohol, food, and clothing being pillaged by protesters.
According to Guaicaipuro Mayor Francisco Garces, the Miranda state government — led by right-wing opposition leader Henrique Capriles — was complicit in the violence.
“This week we have had a siege of violent groups and terrorists. We have seen how these groups attacked Bolivarian National Guard officials, who tried to protect the citizens of Miranda who live in that sector,” he told teleSUR. “Several days ago they tried to burn a bus that serves the community.
|Guaicaipuro Municipality major Francisco Garces (left) speaks to a group of citizens | Photo: Reagan Des Vignes / Telesur|
Small business owners reacted to the vandalism, saying the response by local police and the mayor's office prevented the situation from escalating.
Karen Vigalo, a liquor store owner who “lost a lot” as her property was vandalized, said repairs on her property have already begun.
“Many of the vandals came into the store, destroyed the front barrier, and ran out with bottles of alcohol and money. They also destroyed some of our equipment inside.”
United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) lawmaker Hector Rodriguez visited the affected community Friday, where he assessed the damage and spoke to business owners who expressed concern over recovering losses and the future of their businesses
|PSUV lawmaker Hector Rodriguez listens to the concerns of small business owners after Thursday night's opposition violence | Photo: Reagan Des Vignes/Telesur|
Rodriguez, who held a meeting with some 20 affected Los Tequeans in the presence of Mayor Garces, assured the local community that those affected would be compensated for their losses. He also laid part of the blame at the shoulders of the Miranda state government.
"We want to criticize... those political leaders who want to do politics with violence. The governor of Miranda must assume his responsibility with the state police. The only thing he has done is to call for violence and guarimbas, as he did in 2014.”
Rodriguez added that President Nicolas Maduro has personally intervened and ordered the government to provide aid to the small businesses that were affected by the violence.
"President Maduro has asked us to provide the merchants with the support of the national government, so they can recover everything they lost at the hands of violent groups."
|Rodriguez consoles a community member during a visit to Los Teques | Photo: Reagan Des Vignes / Telesur|
Miranda Governor Henrique Capriles has responded to the accusations of complicity by accusing paramilitary groups, associated with the national government, of being the real perpetrators of Thursday night's violence.
"Looting in Los Teques was ordered by the corrupt, drug kingpin, using paramilitaries. All this is done to detract from the protests of the people,” he said.
Venezuela’s Comptroller General ruled on April 14 that Capriles would be banned from running for office for 15 years.
Capriles painted the move as an attempt by the socialist government to “crack down” on the “peaceful” opposition, failing to mention why the Comptroller General took said action.
On April 5, the institution imposed a fine on the governor for “redirecting funds from Miranda’s budget,” El Nacional reports. Capriles is suspected of misappropriating government funds for personal and political use.
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