Repression is coming. Even to small state capitals like San Felipe.
A few days ago I reported on the political arrest of Yaracuy's ex-governor, Eduardo Lapi. I do not know whether there are enough, or even real merits to arrest him and send him to jail without trial, but what was clear for anyone in Yaracuy, is that the timing of that arrest was coinciding as the fortunes of the current governor, Gimenez, are badly sagging as the Chavez party is murmured to be about to pull the rug under him. As I commented them 1 year of Gimenez administration has undone much of the legacy of Lapi and people are noticing. It is that simple. Gimenez is one of the worst governors in Venezuela today.
This afternoon I was running an errand at some local bank. Sometimes on Fridays banks stay open 1 hour later or more and that bank was no exception. As I was discussing matters with one of the managers we noticed that suddenly the doors had been closed and that the long line of people was no more. The manager inquired and was told that there were some "disturbios" (disturbances) and security had closed the bank while many people preferred to leave without money and go home in a hurry before public transit collapsed.
I did finish up my business and once in the street found it rather calm. Thinking the worst over, and not carrying my camera (nor being mentally ready to investigate, not even knowing what was the origin of the troubles) I went home, a few blocks away. Safely home I turned on Alo Ciudadano just to hear around 5 PM the it was a march in support of Lapi in front of the State House, that access had been blocked to Lapi supporters, while Gimenez supporters were allowed in front of the state house.
Well, as the journalist was reporting on a previous attack, she started chocking, running away, as the state police and Nazional Guard not only allowed the Gimenez crowd to throw stones at the Lapi supporters, but shot tear gas and plastic (and not so plastic) bullets towards them!!!! Tear gas included! Strom troopers backed by civil servants!!!!!
And from home, as I was watching the TV I could hear all the shots while listening to the journalist reporting while she was running for cover!!!!! Talk about simultaneous broadcast! And too late to go there and take pictures.
And it sort of got better: a few minutes after Globovision showed a video of the Vice president defending earlier in the day the Yaracuy Governor. Imagine that, he needed the Vice to state publicly that the Lapi arrest had no political connotation! What a lousy image the governor projects with that! But it was not so good in the end as the vice obviously had forgotten the name of the governor he was defending and stuck several times to the “Governor of Yaracuy” rather than “Governor Gimenez” which is usually how those things go.
But Gimenez is a lousy governor, not even MVR, and with a thug reputation even within his own people. The Vice knows better than bothering recalling the name. However, removing from activity a possible strong opponent, violently crushing a peaceful demonstration are crucial steps to take, least people get the wrong idea that we are still under a democratic government. This the Vice made sure to imply by preempting any “political” accusation earlier in the day. The repression, if you asked me, was already planned even before the marchers arrived at the State House. That is fascism, that is what has been happening in Venezuela since April 2002: let’s marchers come to the set up trap.
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PS: the final tally is not out yet but apparently there are some pople injured, one perhaps about to lose her eye.
PS2: links from the provinces are scarce. I will link them as they come. link 1, a radio station closed, one serious injury. Link 2, a commentary article on the case from Barquisimeto El Informador. Link 3, also El Informador. Teodoro comes out to call the persecution against Lapi for what it is, a political persecution (that is big news, for a candidate to take such a stand, a candidate that will soon hit Yaracuy on the trail; we'll see how he is received...).
PS3: At 11 PM Globovision shows the footage of videos taken this afternoon. It is very easy to observe that the pro Gimenez folks were safely BEHIND the police lines, in front of the State House (probably arriving earlier as soon as news of the other march was known). It was the pro Lapi faction trying to make a rally in front of the State House (a civil right of ALL Venezuelans) that was barred from access. It was the pro Lapi faction that was harrassed, never the pro Gimenez that was vociferating from behind police lines, provoking and throwing stones. Bolivarian storm troopers, brown/black/red shirts.
PS4: There was another brutal repression in Carabobo as railroad workers protested the abuses of the boss which is the government in this case. Apparently they have to work for 12 hours and are dramatically underpaid. They also accuse the trade union that is supposed to represnt them to be a boss trade union, imposed by the government. Amazing... Back to the USSR....