Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Man the Barricades!


Enjolras:
Do you hear the people sing?
Singing the song of angry men?
It is the music of the people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes

Combeferre:
Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?

Courfeyrac:
Then join in the fight
That will give you the right to be free!

All:
Do you hear the people sing?
Singing the song of angry men?
It is the music of the people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!

Feuilly:
Will you give all you can give
So that our banner may advance
Some will fall and some will live
Will you stand up and take your chance?
The blood of the martyrs
Will water the meadows of France!

All:
Do you hear the people sing!
Singing the song of angry men?
It is the music of the people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Cubans and FARC/ ELN Guerillas Against the Venezuelan People???

Cubans Arriving in Maiquetia International Airport in Venezuela, February 15, 2014
Cubans in Venezuelan Uniform in La Carlotta Military Airbase in Central Caracas

Military Hotel in Tachira State filled with Columbians

from the Caracas Chronicles
Dear International Editor:

Listen and understand. The game changed in Venezuela last night. What had been a slow-motion unravelling that had stretched out over many years went kinetic all of a sudden.

What we have this morning is no longer the Venezuela story you thought you understood.

Throughout last night, panicked people told their stories of state-sponsored paramilitaries on motorcycles roaming middle class neighborhoods, shooting at people and storming into apartment buildings, shooting at anyone who seemed like he might be protesting.

People continue to be arrested merely for protesting, and a long established local Human Rights NGO makes an urgent plea for an investigation into widespread reports of torture of detainees. There are now dozens of serious human right abuses: National Guardsmen shooting tear gas canisters directly into residential buildings. We have videos of soldiers shooting civilians on the street.

And that’s just what came out in real time, over Twitter and YouTube, before any real investigation is carried out. Online media is next, a city of 645,000 inhabitants has been taken off the internet amid mounting repression, and this blog itself has been the object of a Facebook “block” campaign.

What we saw were not “street clashes”, what we saw is a state-hatched offensive to suppress and terrorize its opponents.

Here at Caracas Chronicles we’re doing what it can to document the crisis, but there’s only so much one tiny, zero-budget blog can do.

After the major crackdown on the streets of large (and small) Venezuelan cities last night, I expected some kind of response in the major international news outlets this morning. I understand that with an even bigger and more photogenic freakout ongoing in an even more strategically important country, we weren’t going to be front-page-above-the-fold, but I’m staggered this morning to wake up, scan the press and find…

Nothing.


As of 11 a.m. this morning, the New York Times World Section has…nothing.

PS - 2/23/14 - The retired general, Angel Vivas, who reported on the military hotel situation in Venezuela has been ordered arrested by the President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Guardia Naccional Gone Wild - Beat Priest in Carabobo @ 2:00-2:30

Police Armoured Car Also Breaks into Cardinal's Compound in Merida @ 2:30...

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Motorcycling Chavista Thugs Murder Peacefully Protesting Beauty Queen

from Reuters
A local beauty queen died of a bullet wound on Wednesday in the fifth fatality from Venezuela's political unrest, as imprisoned protest leader Leopoldo Lopez urged supporters to keep fighting for the departure of the socialist government.

College student and model Genesis Carmona, 22, was shot in the head during a protest on Tuesday in the central city of Valencia, and died in a clinic.

"How long are we going to live like this? How long do we have to tolerate this pressure, with them killing us?" a relative, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.

"She only needed one more semester to graduate," he added of Carmona, who had been studying tourism and had won the 2013 Miss Tourism competition in her state.

Tensions have risen in Venezuela since Lopez, a 42-year-old Harvard-educated economist, surrendered to troops on Tuesday after spearheading three weeks of often rowdy demonstrations against President Nicolas Maduro's government.

"Today more than ever, our cause has to be the exit of this government," he said, sitting next to his wife in a pre-recorded video to be released if he was arrested. (t.co/uJGiXVm0AV)

"The exit from this disaster, the exit of this group of people who have kidnapped the future of Venezuelans is in your hands. Let's fight. I will be doing so."

As well as the death in Valencia, three people have been shot dead in Caracas and another person run over by a car during a demonstration in the coastal town of Carupano.

There have been scores of arrests and injuries.

TROUBLE AROUND NATION

There was sporadic trouble across Venezuela again on Wednesday. Rival groups scuffled outside the Caracas court where Lopez was due, while student demonstrators also blocked a highway in the capital, burning trash.

In western Tachira state, security forces and protesters fought in the streets for about two hours, with two students injured, various vehicles damaged or destroyed, and local monuments charred, witnesses said.

In southern Puerto Ordaz city, pro- and anti-government marchers fought in the street, witnesses said, with police firing teargas to quell the trouble.

Three government supporters were injured in the melee where shots were fired, and both sides faced off with sticks and stones, the witnesses said.

The demonstrators are calling for Maduro's resignation over issues ranging from inflation and violent crime to corruption and product shortages.

Maduro, who was narrowly elected last year to replace Hugo Chavez after his death from cancer, says Lopez and others in league with the U.S. government are seeking a coup against him.

Street protests were the backdrop to a short-lived ouster of Chavez for 36 hours in 2002, before military loyalists and supporters helped bring him back.

Though tens of thousands joined Lopez on the streets when he turned himself in on Tuesday, the protests so far have mainly been much smaller than the wave of demonstrations a decade ago.

There is no evidence the military, which was the decisive factor in the 2002 overthrow, may turn against Maduro now.

Lopez was being held on Wednesday at the Ramo Verde jail in Caracas, and was due at a first court hearing.

"FREE LEOPOLDO!"

Hundreds of supporters stood outside the tribunal, holding banners saying "Free Leopoldo!" as a line of soldiers stood in front with riot shields and gas-cannisters. "We're prepared to give our lives," said pensioner Juan Marquez, 68.

Police held back a rival demonstration by several hundred 'Chavistas', some of them striking the protesters and shouting "downtown Caracas belongs to revolutionaries".

Waving pictures of Maduro and Chavez, they chanted "Leopoldo, off to Tocoron" in a reference to a notoriously overcrowded provincial jail.

In an intriguing twist to the drama, Maduro said his powerful Congress head Diosdado Cabello, seen by many Venezuelans as a potential rival to the president, personally negotiated Lopez's surrender via his parents.

Cabello even helped drive him to custody in his own car given the risks to Lopez's life from extremists, Maduro said.

With local TV providing minimal live coverage of the street unrest or opposition leaders' news conferences, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook have become the go-to media for many Venezuelans desperate for information on the crisis.

However, many social media users are indiscriminately tweeting images without confirming their origin, leading to manipulation and gaffes including footage of unrest in Egypt and Chile being passed off as repression in Venezuela.

Old photos from past protests are also doing the rounds.

Detractors call Lopez a dangerous and self-serving hothead. He has frequently squabbled with fellow opposition leaders, and was involved in the 2002 coup, even helping arrest a minister.

"I've hardly been in office for 10 months and for 10 months this opposition has been plotting to kill me, topple me," Maduro said. "For how long is the right wing going to hurt the nation?"

Though the majority of demonstrators have been peaceful, a radical fringe have been tossing stones at police, blocking roads and vandalizing buildings.

Rights groups say the police response has been disproportional, with some detainees tortured.

In a nation split largely down the middle on political lines, 'Chavistas' have stayed loyal to Maduro despite unflattering comparisons with his famously charismatic predecessor. Many Venezuelans fear the loss of popular, oil-funded welfare programs should the socialists lose power.

Maduro expelled three U.S. diplomats this week, accusing them of recruiting students to protest. Washington said on Wednesday it was considering reciprocating.
Video of Thugs responsible for attack on Genesis Carmona

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Venezuelan Authorities Arrest Their Designated Scapegoat for Violence Committed by the Police

Gloria al Bravo Pueblo!

from Yahoo News
Caracas (AFP) - Fugitive Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez calmly turned himself in to authorities Tuesday at a tumultuous rally in Caracas as his followers shouted "Freedom! Freedom!"

The government of President Nicolas Maduro had banned the opposition march after Lopez said he would use it to surrender, ringing the plaza with police and national guard anti-riot troops.

The surrender marked a dramatic inflection point after two tension-filled weeks of protests in the oil-rich country, led by students angry over rampant crime, deteriorating living conditions and jailings of demonstrators.

Maduro last week ordered Lopez's arrest on charges of homicide and inciting violence after violent street clashes in Caracas left three dead.

Defying a ban, thousands of Lopez's supporters turned out dressed in white at the Plaza Brion after he called the march in a video message on Sunday, pledging to turn himself in if the government sought to arrest him.

Lopez, also in white, suddenly emerged in the crowd, climbing a statue of Cuban independence hero Jose Marti with a Venezuelan flag. After delivering a brief message to his cheering supporters, he surrendered to the National Guard.

"I present myself before an unjust justice, before a corrupt justice," said the 42-year-old Harvard-educated economist.

"If my incarceration serves to wake up a people... my infamous incarceration will have been worth it," he said to an explosion of cheers from the crowd.

He calmly walked under escort to a National Guard vehicle as his supporters pressed in around the vehicle, blocking its path.

Shouts of "Freedom, Freedom!" and "It's going to fall, it's going to fall, this corrupt government is going to fall" rose from the crowd.

Lopez himself got on the loudspeaker from within the vehicle to appeal for calm.

Three rings of national police backed by a second line of National Guard anti-riot troops with light armored vehicles were positioned around the plaza.

Meanwhile, the government summoned its followers to rallies of its own in an area of downtown Caracas where the opposition march was to end, raising the risk of a violent confrontation.

'They will not pass'

"Not one single opposition march is going to enter the territory of Libertador municipality," said National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, referring to the city's western downtown district, where the opposition march was to end.

"They will not pass. It is not authorized," Cabello said late Monday on his new nightly television program.

The opposition protesters turned out anyway. Some carried signs that read: "24,763 violent deaths in 2013. We are more than a statistic."

"We are expressing the frustration we feel. The country is in chaos, there are no supplies in the hospitals, we are sick of the insecurity. I want a Venezuela of progress," said Satle Oviedo, a 27-year-old hospital worker.

Under the slogan "the exit," Lopez and other opposition leaders have pushed for anti-government street protests to force a "constitutional change."

There is no provision for recall elections until April 2016, and Maduro, who was elected in April 2013, has said he will never resign.

The confrontational approach has aroused misgivings within the opposition coalition formed in 2012 to defeat the late Hugo Chavez.

But Henrique Capriles, the two-time opposition presidential candidate and governor of the state of Miranda, said he would take part in Tuesday's march even though he does not think the time is ripe to try to force the government from power.

"We may have differences but we feel solidarity," Capriles said.

- Tense US-Venezuela ties -

The tensions generated by the protests have spilled into the international arena as well.

On Sunday, Maduro ordered the expulsion of three US diplomats, accusing them of meeting with student leaders under the guise of offering them visas.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, confirming the expulsion orders, said Tuesday the United States was considering what actions it will take.

"We have seen many times that the Venezuelan government tries to distract from its own actions by blaming the United States or other members of the international community for events inside Venezuela," she said.

"These efforts reflect a lack of seriousness on the part of the Venezuelan government to deal with the grave situation it faces," she said.

Venezuela's relations with Washington, long strained under Chavez, have remained sour and distrustful under Maduro, who has hewed closely to his predecessor's socialist policies.

In late September, Maduro kicked out three other US diplomats, on accusations of conspiring with government opponents. The two countries have had no ambassadors since 2010.

Various Latin American leaders closed ranks behind Maduro, while regional organizations like Celac, Unasur and countries like Mexico and Panama urged Venezuelans to resolve their differences through dialogue.

The secretary general of the Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza, called on all sides to refrain from violence, warning it would further polarize "the delicate political moment that the South American country is living."
EL Pueblo Venezolano Show Their Support for Leopoldo Lopez!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Opposition Leader for Whom Arrest Warrant Issued Vows to March on Tuesday, 2-18-14


If he was responsible, as charged by Maduro, for the violence on feb 12, how come no police officers were killed and the 3 deaths were of protesters?

Intermission

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Venezuela Descending...

Ayuda! Please Help Spread the Word.
Video of Police Killing Student Protester
Video of Police Beating Protesters

The Cloak of Gyges Descends Over Venezuela... as Maduro Removes the Velvet Glove

As pictures posted in Venezuela disappear from Twitter feeds...
Police Beating Up Women in Base Aragua, Maracay

Opposition Crackdown in Venezuela Goes "Official"...

from CNN
Caracas, Venezuela (CNN) -- A day after political violence in Venezuela left three dead on the streets of Caracas, authorities issued an arrest warrant for an opposition leader on charges including conspiracy and murder in connection with the clashes, an official with Venezuela's justice ministry said Thursday.

Before his government issued an arrest warrant for opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, President Nicolas Maduro had already threatened him with a permanent ban on holding public office.

Lopez's party, Popular Will (known as VP after its initials in Spanish), has accused the government of responsibility for violence during anti-government protests Wednesday.

The violence, which left three dead in Caracas and dozens more injured or detained across the country, has exacerbated an already tense situation.

Maduro insists he is facing a slow-motion coup.

"I want to alert the world. We are facing a developing coup plan against the democracy and the government that I preside over, orchestrated by a small group of irresponsible leaders, violent, full of hatred and personal ambitions," he said Wednesday.

Opposition leaders say they will not be intimidated and will continue to protest in the streets.

Students have protested for days nationwide to demand a better way of life, greater security on campus and the release of classmates arrested during marches.

Maduro was elected last April following President Hugo Chavez's death from cancer. He has presided over a sharp decline in living standards and has failed to stem rising violent crime.

Inflation, at 56.2%, is the highest in the world and many basic goods are missing from the shelves. Amid stringent price and exchange controls, Venezuela is running out of hard currency to pay foreign suppliers of goods and services.

One wing of the opposition Democratic Unity alliance is demanding a change of government. Moderates, led by former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, believe street demonstrations merely play into the government's hands.

On Wednesday, however, Capriles joined a protest march on the downtown offices of the public prosecutor, Luisa Ortega Diaz. Among other things, demonstrators were demanding the release of student leaders jailed after earlier protests in the southwestern state of Tachira.

Ortega refused to receive them. The two main opposition leaders behind the demonstration -- Lopez and congresswoman Maria Corina Machado -- eventually told protesters to disperse.

However, a group that remained behind was soon involved in skirmishes with armed government supporters.

Both sides blame the other for the violence, which in addition to the deaths and injuries left five police patrol cars ablaze and the building housing the prosecutor's office badly damaged.

The interior minister said about 30 people were arrested for suspected vandalism. They had hoods, radios, loaded petrol bombs and stones to attack the police, Miguel Rodriguez Torres told state-run VTV.

Another casualty has been the media.

The government has warned independent broadcasters of reprisals if they carry live coverage of demonstrations. Most have chosen to toe the line. The international, Spanish-language news channel NTN24 was removed from cable and satellite services for declining to do so. Some press photographers covering the demonstration had their material snatched by security forces or government supporters.

The head of the government's media watchdog Conatel, William Castillo, accused foreign media of a deliberate campaign to stoke the violence and undermine the government.

Capriles, for his part, made a plea for moderation. He urged opposition supporters not to "help a weak government like this to strengthen its grip."

With rival opposition leaders taking a radically different line, the split in their ranks seems set to widen. And on the streets, clashes seem likely to continue.

On Thursday, the national guard deployed troops and armored vehicles in many cities as students continued to protest, albeit in smaller numbers.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Good Morning COMMUNISM!

from the Latin America Herald Tribune
The impending threat of communism in Venezuela is now a reality with the “Decree with Range, Value and Force of Fair Prices” published in the country’s Official Gazette on January 24, issued by President Nicolás Maduro thanks to the special powers granted through an enabling law by lawmakers of the chavismo regime in November of last year.

The destructive power of this decree over businesses is enormous when compared to other similar laws passed by Congress over the last 15 years, and that’s a lot to say.

Not in vain the goal of that decree is quite explicit: Consolidating the economic order of socialism as dictated by the Plan for the Homeland (a project for a country first conceived by the late Hugo Chávez).

With this decree, Maduro is imposing communist-style norms on private companies as he takes away the right from all business owners to run their businesses, no matter the size, the way it should be done in a democracy. This is because this law is applied on “all national, international and transnational companies as well as all natural persons exercising commercial activities in the country.” In sum, this means the entire value chain.

No person or business (small, medium, and large as much as every independent entrepreneur) will have the liberty to operate their business or set their profit margins and capital return. Since January 24, when this law entered into force, no wholesalers or retailers are allowed to set their own prices. From that day on the National Executive took over helped by a new bureaucratic apparatus, the “National Superintendence for the Defense of Social-Economic Rights (Sundde), a governmental body that not only will fix prices of goods and services, but also profit margins per economic sector, which in any case can exceed 30%, but these may be lower than that if Sundee believes that to be necessary.

And if this were not enough evidence to confirm the communist nature of this decree, let’s just analyze the following two points:

1) This decree declares of public and social interest all goods and services that are required to develop any kind of activity regarding production, manufacturing, imports, stockpiles, transportation, distribution and marketing of goods and provision of services. This means all activities are subject to expropriation just as a Land Law did a few years ago when it devastated the entire agricultural industry of the nation.

2) It contemplates strong sanctions and penalties that affect owners, partners and managers all the same. These include costly fines ranging from 200 tax units to 50,000 tax units; prison terms from 8-14 years; occupation and temporary closure of companies and commercial establishments, with the possibility of permanent closure; confiscation of goods and revocation of licenses, permits, authorizations, certificates, among other administrative actions dictated by Sundde.

And if Venezuelans think they can avoid all this, they can forget about that: First of all, because it is mandatory to sign up for the so-called Central Registry of People who Develop Economic Activities, or Rupdae. Second of all, because this decree issues a Fair Prices Certificate, also mandatory and indispensable for the request of foreign currency to the State, as much as for any kind of formalities the National Executive establishes at its discretion. For getting this certificate, every company will need to prove before Sundde they are complying with the parameters established by law and others imposed by this superintendence.

It seems communism is here to stay.