|UPDATES: Four very important and encouraging updates to this article are provided by Arturo Rosales, writing from Caracas. The updates can be found at the end of the article, including 2 videos. - LMB
In this report we summarize the violence against the government launched by the opposition during the last two weeks, provide context for the timing of these attacks, the government's response, a brief analysis followed by a proposal.
Week of February 3: Last week "protests" by rioting opposition students and violent attacks took place in two Venezuelan states: Tachira, on the Colombian border and Merida. On February 4th demonstrations orchestrated by the right-wing were launched in San Cristóbal, Tachira and students from University of the Andes (ULA) in Merida and a few other institutions. These operations began peacefully before turning violent with many of them, masked and hooded, throwing rocks, bottles and molotov cocktails at motorists, blocking streets and roads. Venezuela Analysis, based in Merida reported that according to Socialist Governor of Tachira Vielma Mora, on February 6 a group attacked his residence. They broke down the front gates to the residence, destroyed a police sentry post and threatened the governor's wife who was being protected by the police. Mora said that some had turned up at the nursery where his young children were in care "with the intention of taking them out and causing them harm."
Week of February 9
February 10: The riots in Merida and Tachira continued through February 10th with these thugs burning tires, firing live ammunition indiscriminately into buildings, throwing rocks, attempting to storm a communal house in Merida and forcing people off buses at gunpoint. Tamara Pearson, a journalist writing for Venezuela Analysis reported that one of their reporters was held in the street at gunpoint with captors threatening to kill her if she didn't give them her camera.
Merida state governor, Alexis Ramirez, also released photos of the armed "protestors" whom he said was detained and later said he was paid by an opposition leader, Villca Fernandez to protest.
On Saturday in Chacao, Caracas' wealthiest sector around twenty people blocked a main road, impeded an ambulance while Chacao police under control of the opposition stood by and watched.
It's our understanding based on news reports from government and opposition television and print media that during this entire period, three policemen were injured and a number of students were arrested and released, unharmed.
February 12-13: Opposition leaders called on students to go to the streets and actions which were carried out in Central Caracas yesterday. The government permitted a peaceful protest which began in Plaza Venezuela and ended at Parque Carabobo near the Attorney General's office - a distance of about one mile. Their numbers were wildly exaggerated by the media in the US and Europe (see Media section below). When the march ended a band of thugs separated from the others and attacked the building with rocks and molotov cocktails setting the front of the AG building on fire. Then they used gasoline to light cars afire, destroying about a dozen and overturning one of them. This has all been published on National Public Television (VTV) and TeleSur. Simultaneously violence was carried out in the cities of Valencia, Trujillo, Maracaibo and Maracay. They also entered the Metro (subway) in Chacao trying to destroy it with fire didn't succeed.
Three deaths: Yesterday, 3 people were killed in Caracas.
Tonight: As I write this on the evening of the 13th, there is another violent "protest" in front of VTV, National Public Television in Central Caracas. National Police are taking action on this and Maduro said, "Enough tolerance" and that he wanted them all captured and detained. (See section on Government Response, below). Also in an address to the nation tonight President Maduro said there were fresh attacks today on government medical centers. Maduro also mentioned a message on Twitter sent from a person who calls himself Cesar Cruz. The Tweet said: "The daughter of Diosdado Cabello (President of National Assembly) studies in a school in San Antonio de Los Alatos. Let's have her killed so that the bastard suffers." These are the kind of people the government and people are dealing with - people with whom one cannot "negotiate." This is obiously pure terrorism.
This brings us up to the hour on the details of what has taken place in the last 10 days from February 3-13, 2014 and it's interesting to think now about the period selected chosen by those involved for the "protest."
Timing of the Attacks
This violence was planned well in advance for early February - a very important time in Venezuela:
In the article published today the BBC failed to report anything about these students who far outnumber the "protestors" showing no sympathy for hard-working students in the university who are happy with their lives and education.
It's important for everyone to know that there are nearly 3 million university students in Venezuela compared with about 600,000 during the last year of the Fourth Republic before President Chávez came into office. This government has opened 32 new universities and we are ranked number 2 in Latin America and Caribbean, number 5 in the world for the numbers of students in higher education. It's important because the number of students among the opposition are a tiny fraction of the 3 million, the protestors are a tiny fraction of them and the number of those committing violent acts infinitesimal.
Looking Behind the Curtain
On January 23, 2013, less than 3 weeks before the violence erupted here in Venezuela, the US-based Brookings Institute produced a report titled “Venezuela Breaks Down in Violence,” authored by Harold Trinkunas. Trinkunas is former chair of the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in California. The fact that this was published at that time there was no sign of violence erupting in Venezuela is telling if not damning. Trinkunas referred to “the risk of a violent popular reaction and regional instability” and emphasized US interest in maintaining Venezuela as “a reliable supplier of oil to international markets.”
He advised Washington, “should violence erupt, to prepare a concerted regional response that leads to Venezuela’s re-democratization.”
Early February was targeted for the protests and violence and organized for reasons discussed above but by whom? MUD is the collective of various opposition political parties and it was fractured more than ever after the December 8 mayoral elections when 76% of the nation's mayors of cities and towns won Chavista elections with the opposition winning only 24%. Since then, MUD kicked out two of their most openly aggressive right-wing leaders, Maria Machado and Leopoldo López, fascists to the core.
After being booted out of MUD, López called for opposition students to hit the streets. López was already 'under investigation' for crimes committed against the people and it was only a matter of time before he'd have been arrested, faced criminal court and the law. Leopoldo López did not deny this in a number of interviews and in one, for example. he was asked when the protests will stop. He answered, "When the person who is governing us leaves". The Attorney General issued a warrant for his arrest yesterday and Diosdado stated yesterday that "the fugitive Leopoldo Lopez has passages for tomorrow at 6 am, in Avianca flight 069 for Bogota" but if so, it's doubtful he'll be allowed to escape.
Since Feb 3, neither Machado nor López nor other opposition leaders have spoken out against the violence or called for it to stop. In fact, they are calling for more "protests" in coming weeks. But today the BBC quoted Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma who was directly responsible for the state murders of hundreds of Venezuelans during the Fourth Republic: "Just as we condemn the violent incidents, we say to all Venezuelan families that we have to remain ready to continue fighting, calmly but with determination." The first part of his "quotable" statment is a lie and the language in the second part, calling for "fighting, calmly but with determination" is code for "ramp up the violence" - and everyone knows it.
When the opposition carries out its anti-government actions in Venezuela, it sets the stage for the corporate media to present it anyway they wish to discredit the government and the Bolivarian Revolution. We offer the following 2 examples of the capitalist media in this case:
The Corporate Media:CNN TV Espanol showed these protests using footage from the much larger student protests that took place in 2003 as though they took place yesterday. They presented them as "peaceful protests," omitting most of the violence described above but selected just enough to portray Venezuela as a dangerous and violent country, chaotic and out of control.
The second example is the BBC which stated today,"The violence broke out after some 10,000 demonstrators had gone home following a mainly peaceful rally." The number of students participating was much, much smaller and the protests were anything but "mainly peaceful." Even opposition media like El Universal pegged the number at about 1500 and in all of the videos on all TV channels, public and private, supports that approximate number. The BBC published, "The march was the latest in a series of mass protests against the policies of President Nicolas Maduro" continuing to blame the Maduro government for the violence with their usual string of lies about inflation, food shortages and "one of the highest murder rates in the world" which we've addressed and disproven in previous articles on Axis of Logic.
Under the BBC subtitle, "Growing Discontent" they declared "The march on Wednesday was the latest in a series of anti-government demonstrations in which protesters have demanded the resignation of President Maduro" reinforcing the US coinage of "Regime change." "Growing discontent" by whom? The same Venezuelans who on December 8, 2013 elected 76% of the country's mayors who support Maduro?
None of the many corporate media we have reviewed provide any of the context for the Washington-bred violence as Axis of Logic and other independent media like Venezuela Analysis have done. All the capitalist media blames the government rather than the fascists for the violence. In doing so they themselves are fascist rags filled with lies. We could justly say the same for the NYT, Washington Post and the rest.
The Pseudo-Left Media: Some outlets of the pseudo-left media like World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) have joined with the capitalists in the media war. WSWS has consistently attacked President Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution over the last 15 years using the sleight of hand accusation that Venezuela is not "left" enough for them. In their most recent article they state from fiat that the government is "collaborating" with Capriles Radonski, an avowed enemy of the state who called for violence last April 15 when he lost the presidential election to Maduro the day before. WSWS shamelessly repeated the corporate media lies stating, "There is evidence that opposition to the government is building up from another direction, the left, within the Venezuelan working class, whose conditions have deteriorated in the face of a 56.1 inflation rate last year—the highest on the continent—and government devaluations that have slashed workers’ real wages. Meanwhile, the government’s economic policies have led to widespread shortages, with the Venezuelan Central Bank itself estimating that at any one time one out of four basic necessities is unavailable."
These claims fly in the face of reality evidenced by all the achievements in Venezuela for the Left, the poor and working class in Venezuela since President Chávez was first elected to office 15 years ago. Workers wages have consistently been increased each year along with subsidized food, free medical care, descent housing and free education K through university, to keep the Venezuelan poor and working class in line with the cost of living. They do not qualify their corporate media assertion of a "56.1 inflation rate" which is known to be a false inflation based on Washington's concoction of the black market dollar. It is more fitting with their agenda to blame the government for "the highest inflation on the continent" rather than the imperialist war on the Venezuelan economy. Where is there evidence that "the left" in Venezuela is joining the opposition when all the left political parties, including the Communist Party and majority of the people give overwhelming support to the Maduro government? We followed virtually all WSWS articles on Venezuela over the years and have yet to read one writer who's claimed to have visited Venezuela. The imperialists are well known for infiltrating the left with operatives to turn it against itself and those infiltrators gain their credentials with harmless attacks on the one they serve.
With their attacks on the Bolivarian Revolution it's reasonable to suspect that they and a few other "leftist" media work hand-in-glove with the capitalists, condemning capitalism in countries where it faces no real threat and condemning socialist governments like Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Uruguay and Argentina who pose a serious threat to the capitalist system with socialist institutions that have proved successful across the board including the development of transnational alliances in Latin America.
The Government's Response
Throughout this period of violence, President Maduro's approach has been far from passive. He has consistently called for an end to violence but he instructed the police, National Guard and military not to forcibly end the protests and violence. Having watched hours of footage we haven't seen a single time when any opposition member was physically harmed by any of these enforcement bodies. If students were injured by police, it would be featured in the opposition and corporate media.
The government has resisted any hint of repression for what we believe are a couple of reasons. The first is that this was the way President Chávez would have handled it. After he returned from being kinapped in the 2002 coup attempt, he didn't even have the leaders and operatives who led the coup arrested, let alone killing them as would have been done in the United States and most "developed" countries.
Correction: The only ones who are in prison from crimes committed in the 2002 coup attempt today are 8 former Police officers and three Commanders of the Metropolitan Police - Vivas, Forero and Simonovic, all chaged with homicides in the massacre in Caracas on April 11th 2002."
8 members of the Metropolitan Police Force who committed crimes who were charged with homicides. President Chávez' morality and wisdom denied claims of repression to the opposition and forced them to follow constitutional law if they wanted him out. They tried with the referendum in 2004 and were soundly defeated by the people.
The second reason is that Maduro knows the plan behind the violence. What those behind the violence wanted was the government to respond with force in order to blame it for repression and brutality "against its own citizens."
In Iraq, Libya and Syria this has been used to eventually impose sanctions and then war and regime change. I personally don't expect the US military to invade Venezuela as in those countries; instead, these "protests" are designed to gradually bring about destabilization and "regime change" internally, via a coup and civil war. To avoid misunderstanding, of course US troops would be here now - if it were possible. Then of course there are the largest petroleum reserves in the world to consider. Fostering, funding and arming unrest and internal violence is Washington's formula and method, at least for now.
VTV reported yesterday that a total of 67 people have been detained. Also, in addition to the arrest warrant issued against Leopoldo López, the government issued two detention warrants against Fernando Gerbassi, who was ambassador to Colombia under Carlos Andrés Pérez in the 4th Republic and Iván Carratú Molina, head of presidential guard to the same president. Maduro said today that Gerbassi has been involved in conspiracies from the April 2002 coup attempt forward. The government published the following phone conversation obtained by intelligence services. With whom is he talking?
This period of protests and violence have the very same precedents as those of the coup attempt in April 2002. Persons from both sides, Chavistas and opposition alike, executed by sniper fire with shots in the head to trigger a civil war. Operatives like Machado, López, Gerbassi and Molina calling for violence and executing a plan devised in Washington and funded by the US government through NGO's and the US Embassy in Caracas. Logic, history and plans known by Venezuelan intel services say the enemy will try to ramp up the violence in coming days to try to force government to come down with a heavy hand.
Chavistas, (the majority of the population) are very upset, meeting in homes, community councils and on the street, demanding an end to violence. They know what they would lose if the government were overthrown and the bloodbath that would surely follow by a new fascist regime. President Maduro has called upon them not to react and to follow the constitution and law to bring people to justice. So far they have complied and there hasn't been a single incident reported of Chavista reprisals.
Today President Maduro assured the country, “There will be no coup d’état in Venezuela; you can rest assured. Democracy will continue, and the revolution will continue.” In his address to the nation tonight he stated, “We have had a lot of patience with them. Should I allow them to burn, to destroy this country?” He went on to warn those involved that more violence wouldn't be tolerated. We end this lengthy report with the following proposal:
Tonight the "cacerolas" began outside my home. Cacerolas refer to pot-banging by rank and file opposition. The rich opposition's use of them is cynical because the original cacerolas began during the Fourth Republic when the poor banged on their pots and pans in protest for having no food to eat.
Biography, Essays and Poetry by Les BloughFirst Video: The first video is one of President Maduro shown with Juan "Juancho" Montoya before he was slain by sniper fire from a high rise building on February 12 in Caracas. His nickname was Juancho and he was very important in Barrio 23rd January and was known as "Comandante Juancho" and was one of President Chavez' right hand men. The video shows President Maduro with Juancho attending the destruction of weapons turned in at the 23rd of January in the framework of Maduro's "Peace Movement and Life"program and under the Law of Disarmament. Juancho was slain by sniper fire from a high rise building in the fascist attacks in Caracas on February 12.
FEBRUARY 14, 2013 - 4 UPDATES
Axis of Logic asks, "When have we ever seen the president of the US sitting down with people in the neighborhoods discussing violence in their neighborhood or the street in a US city? (rhetorical).
Second Video:The second video is of the funeral of Juan Montoya. People from Barrio 23rd of January attending Juancho's funeral said that they expect "immediate, decisive and conclusive action" from the government and are prepared to wait. "Otherwise we will deal with the situation". Aporrea published this description (Axis of Logic translation)