The news today was the first dissident student march against the ill-called constitutional reform of Chavez. For a first effort it was impressive, and if chavismo thought that they had it made, they must be pondering new strategies tonight. The fact of the day is that the blockade put to the march by chavismo, comprised of Metropolitan Police and the usual red-shirted hordes failed: the students broke through and had to be received by the National Assembly.
Before relating the details of the day it is important to delve on this point: the students threw away their fears, and confronted chavismo in the streets. But also it is important to note that the chavista hordes were less numerous than usual and certainly not numerous enough that even as they were protected by the police, they could not block the passage to the student march. I do not know which is the most important fact, that chavismo is losing its touch or that the opposition is waking up bravely. To be continued.
As for the day now.
First, the march was called rather late, rather disorganized but still got its permit from mayor Bernal. This one fixed a terminus point, but the police decided to push it back by three blocks. That is why the students forced their way through, refusing to abide by that totally useless provocation.
But the forecast for this success was not good, even literally. It was a rainy day in Caracas, and yet the march was huge as many went with their umbrellas and thousands more did not care a bit about being soaked to the bone. That by itself was impressive, to see under heavy rains the determination of these people. Chavistas hordes apparently did not have such a wet determination. The video below is quite good to show the rain (and the chavista red shirts), but not as good at showing the street fight or the extent of the march. As soon as the Globovision go on line I will post them, stay tuned.
Meanwhile you can consult the gallery of El Universal for pictures.
The march was held to ask the National Assembly to postpone the referendum until February 3 2008, because as anyone with enough common sense will admit, you did not discuss the validity of 70 constitutional amendments in 4 weeks. The very least would be to give at least one day of electoral campaign per amended article, no?
Of course as it is now usual the Nazional Guard across Venezuela now blocks any bus that goes toward Caracas for an opposition rally of any type. The only result as usual is propaganda points for the opposition and another black mark on a guard whose reputation is so low that even Chavez is trying to get rid of them, no matter how much they try to support Chavez fascism. Meanwhile the whole states of Carabobo and Aragua slided into a gigantic gridlock just because some stupid fat assed Nazional Guard tried to score brownie points with Chavez.
Still, this did not stop the success of the march while a small group of pro Chavez students gathered without any hindrance on Bolivar Square (we know that many of them are on the state payrolls in the unique work-study programs that chavismo offers its hardcore followers). These pro Chavez students, who have been traveling through Venezuela at tax payer expenses to promote the constitutional pseudo-reforma said that they were against the opposition march. Their arguments are embarrassing to read. It is nice to see that they are developing in good little fascisto-communists. A dissident student leader remarked acidly that chavista students had access everywhere while opposition ones had to break police barriers to bring a petition to parliament.
Of course when the march hit the Metropolitana Police barrier (manned by may police women, an interesting detail) violence started as chavista hordes were throwing bottles above the said police without that police doing much to stop the abuse. But the students fought back and the video on how the barrier was broke is simply spectacular. Though the picture next shows that a few were scared by the flying projectiles coming from the chavista side (I know the feeling, I have been myself personally the object of aggression to my person, from the back, as these hordes usually do not have the courage to attack you from the front, just as Chavez who never lets anyone confront him directly).
At any rate, the day is very important for two things:
1) visibly the opposition to the constitutional change is much bigger and determined than what anyone was thinking, including chavismo.
2) the way promises were broken, the way the army and the police acted, illustrate clearly that we are already under a repressive regime and that the objective of the constitutional changes are simply to make legal all that is already taking place.
Remember, you might have read it here first.
Meanwhile my deepest admiration to these truly brave students!