Venezuelan Government Sends Army to Combat “Grave” Opposition Disorder near Colombian Border

Tachira State in red

Tachira State in red

Mérida, 22nd February 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – The Venezuelan government is to send two army battalions to, which borders Colombia, to combat a “grave” case of opposition-promoted disorder in the area.

According to press reports and an eyewitness testimony provided to Venezuelanalysis.com, the capital city of Táchira state, San Cristóbal, has been almost brought to a standstill in recent days by street barricades set up by hard-line opposition activists.

According to such reports, in recent days almost no transport has been able to circulate, while the great majority of shops and businesses have been closed. Authorities warn that the street blockades are impeding the delivery of food and gasoline, and claim that transport workers have been threatened.

The government also suspects that “paramilitaries and criminal gangs” are involved in the actions, with the complicity of the local opposition mayor, Daniel Ceballos.

Jack Johnston, a science teacher from England, experienced the situation in Sán Cristobal first hand, spending nine days there. He told VA.com that the terminal had been closed and he was lucky to find a bus out on Thursday.

“From Monday morning there were no taxis operating, no public transport, and the city’s bus terminal was closed…on Monday one of the main squares in the city was completely deserted by nightfall, and the only thing open was a Wendy’s restaurant,” he said.

Johnston commented that the people on the street barricades in central San Cristobal appeared to be students. “They complained about insecurity, but their main demand was for the fall of the government,” he said.

When asked about the response he had observed from the authorities to the situation, he replied, “Inexplicably non-existent. It’s far from a repressive crackdown, the exact opposite. They’ve allowed a small number of students to occupy a main crossroads and dozens of blocs without any opposition…I explained to them [opposition activists] that there’s no way this would be allowed to continue for more than one day in my country”.

On Wednesday, Venezuelan foreign minister Elias Jaua mentioned events in Tachira to ambassadors of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). He described the situation there as “extremely delicate” and explained, “We’ve acted with the restraint and calm that allows us to understand what’s being played out in Venezuela”.

The foreign minister also referred to opposition protests and street barricades that have affected the country in recent weeks. The government claims a strategy is being employed by the right-wing opposition to destabilise the country and create the conditions for a state coup or foreign intervention.

“[This is] a repeated and well known scheme with disastrous consequences, where a situation of violence is generated so that the state is obliged to act in safeguard of the country’s lives and assets, to then become an object of criminalisation, demonisation, sanctions, blockades, and military intervention,” Jaua argued.

The opposition’s leadership says violent street actions are carried out by “infiltrators”, and that the government and its supporters are responsible for recent violence, claiming they have repressed peaceful student demonstrations.

Army units

On Thursday the minister of interior affairs, Miguel Rodriguez Torres, announced that two army battalions would enter Táchira state to help re-establish order there.

The first unit, a parachute battalion, will be placed on the main highways into the city, but will not enter the city itself. “It’s to reinforce the [existing] units…because we’ve detected Colombians that come to undertake missions as armed paramilitaries in the street riots,” the minister said to press.

Meanwhile the National Bolivarian Guard (GNB) will be used to re-establish order in the city, and thereafter in neighbouring municipalities. The second battalion, of army engineers, will then enter the city to clean it of the burned rubbish, tires, and other damages left by the street barricades. Carrying arms in the state is temporarily banned.

Rodriguez Torres accused San Cristobal’s mayor, Daniel Ceballos, of conspiring in the unrest. The minister said there was evidence that Ceballos had paid for paramilitaries and criminal gangs to get involved in the disorder. President Maduro said on Thursday that police forces must investigate the case, “and if he [Ceballos] should be jailed, he will be jailed”.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles criticised the measures to restore order in San Cristobal, arguing that they will not solve the city’s problems. “They don’t want tanks in Táchira, Nicolas, in Tachira they want food, and for the problem with the border [ie contraband activity] to be solved,” he said yesterday. Continue reading

Advertisements

Venezuela blames US for sabotage plot

image

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has revealed the White House hatched a plot to “collapse” his government in October through sabotaging food, electricity and fuel supplies.

“I have data about a meeting at the White House, the full names of those who attended. I know what plans they made for the total collapse” of the country, Maduro said on Saturday during a ceremony in northern Aragua state.

“They think that Venezuela will collapse in October, so long as they plan for it by sabotaging the people’s food, electricity, fuel and refineries.”

In recent months, the Venezuelan government has made several revelations about conspiracies against it and plots to kill Maduro, who even stated that Washington wanted to kill him at the same time that it carried out a possible attack on Syria.

Maduro’s predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, also made remarks about several plots to kill him.

On Tuesday, Maduro noted the Venezuelan opposition had sabotaged the electrical power grid after a massive blackout left 70 percent of the country without power for at least four hours.

“The empire will fall before Venezuela, which won’t collapse, by sabotage or anything,” Maduro told supporters, using a euphemism for the United States.

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales had also accused the United States of planning to stage a coup in Venezuela, criticizing Washington for questioning the results of the recent Venezuelan presidential election
Continue reading

Venezuela’s Maduro accuses US Embassy of supporting violent protests

Venezuela’s post-election crisis is growing deeper, with at least seven people killed during clashes between the opposition and police. President-elect Nicolas Maduro says he has proof that the US embassy is financing the ongoing protests.

The deaths occurred on Monday, when hundreds of protesters took to the streets in various parts of Caracas and other cities. The demonstrators blocked streets, burned tires, and fought with security forces.

The fatalities include two people shot by opposition sympathizers while celebrating Maduro’s victory, state media reported. One person died in an attack on a government-run clinic in a central state. Two others, including a policeman, were killed in an Andean border state, officials told Reuters.

“The most serious thing is that in these violent actions, seven Venezuelans died,” said Attorney General Luisa Ortega. She added that 135 people have been arrested in suspected connection with the violence.

According to Maduro, who spoke on Venezuelan television on Tuesday, opposition candidate Henrique Capriles ought to be held responsible for the violent demonstrations now taking place in Caracas and throughout the country, which have already left sixty-one injured. He also made pointed accusations at the US as having a key role in the current instability.

Supporters of Venezuelan presidential candidate Henrique Capriles protest in front of the Regional CNE (National Election Council) in Merida, Merida State on April 16, 2013 (AFP Photo / Jose Antonio Rivas)

The Pentagon, the US State Department and the CIA govern the US. Here, in Venezuela, the people govern, ” stated Maduro.

Meanwhile,  Capriles has called Maduro’s victory “illegitimate” and called on supporters to peacefully protest the results. The Venezuelan election authority has refused to hold a recount, despite calls from the opposition.

But Latin American expert James Petras says the election was anything but fraudulent.

“In the case of Venezuela, there were 100 outside international observers clearly recognized as objective judges who observed the election process, observed the voting, and observed the counting. It’s a misnomer to say that this was a questionable election,” he told RT.

Maduro said on Tuesday that he will not allow the opposition to hold a march in the center of Caracas planned for Wednesday, to demand a recount of votes following Sunday’s election. “It’s time for a tough hand,” he said.

Venezuela’s opposition leader Henrique Capriles, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.(Reuters / Marco Bello , AFP Photo / Raul Arboleda)

Speaking to supporters Tuesday, Capriles indicated that the current clashes were the work of the incumbent party, and asked that they not go out into the streets on Wednesday, stating that those who do “only want violence.” He added that, according to intelligence given to the opposition, the government had and would attempt to “infiltrate” demonstrations.

Maduro has spoken out against the opposition protests. “Where are the opposition politicians who believe in democracy?”Maduro said, blaming opposition candidate Henrique Capriles for the violence.

His thoughts were echoed by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua. “Those who attempt to take with force what they could not acquire through elections are not democrats,” he said.

And Petras agrees. “I think [the opposition] is trying to sabotage the government. They’re not engaging in a peaceful protest. They’re not raising legitimate questions. What they’re doing is essentially calling into question election procedures,” he said.

Supporters of Venezuelan presidential candidate Henrique Capriles protest in front of the Regional CNE (National Election Council) in Maracaibo, Zulia state on April 16, 2013 (AFP Photo / Argemary Bernal)

Sunday’s election came after the death of Hugo Chavez last month. He named Maduro as his successor before he died.

Maduro won the election with 50.8 per cent of the vote against Capriles’ 49.0 per cent.

According to anti-war activist Don Debar, the US is not exactly neutral in the Venezuelan election dispute.

“Venezuela is the nexus point for the standing up of the global South. The organizations ALBA, UNASUR, various structures that are being put in place for economic independence of, first, Central and South America, and then recently moves to bridge to Africa and moves to work in conjunction with the BRICS nations. It’s an alternate economic structure, global in its potential nature, that the United States sees basically as a foundational threat,” he told RT.

AFP Photo / Jose Antonio Rivas

Source: RT