Monday, April 24, 2017

Update on French elections

Yesterday I went to vote at the Caracas French embassy. I smelled tear gases wafting around us.  On one side democracy, on the other democracy's assassins.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

And the next stop is....

OK, a lot has been going on. I cannot catch up with everything. So here follows a summary of sorts mixed with my conclusions. Sort it out if you can, I can't.

The recent crude facts

Friday, April 21, 2017

My April 19

I know, this is almost two days late but this was such a personal experience that I can indulge this post.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Terror in Caracas

What we have experienced today in Caracas is terror. Even yours truly got gassed, not much but truly. But I am not the one who suffered the most, by far. So I will start this entry with pictures that show clearly the terror the regime deliberately forced upon us, at an enormous risk of lives lost. Four pictures to say it all.

This picture truly represents terror. On the right what are goons of the worst kind. On the left kids, teenagers 20 something, girls, hiding for dear life away from these goons, trying not to fall in the river. Look at the picture, look at the details!!!

Unfortunately some of them had to go down and wade through one of the most contaminated streams of the world, the rive Guaire that crosses Caracas, an open air sewer. I let you imagine the consequences...

How did that happen? The repression deliberately set a trap that could have caused hundreds of death.

The main highway through Caracas was taken by the march. That highway, Autopista Francisco Fajardo, AFF, splits at the level of Chacaito in an upper road West-East and a lower road East-West. Since the march was so huge (in a post later) the two decks were densely packed. Then the regime decided to strike. In the first picture you will see the upper deck and how packed it was. Had the wind gone East West, or had there being no breeze, the suffocation would have created a stampede and people would have been trampled upon, or maybe even jumped! I suppose the regime bet on the wind so that the smell would not be so bad to avoid a stampede. But the risk was enormous, ENORMOUS!

The next picture is the view West East where you can appreciate more what I just wrote. You can also see the amount of tear/pepper gas used and that the breeze was not that strong. You can also see that the lower deck battle was strong and that the crush forced people to jump into the sewer. The crossing shown above is further down river and not seen in this picture in particular, or at least it had not started yet as people may not have been aware yet of what was happening.

Now you understand better the terror in the first picture above.

All of these are worthy of Crime Against Humanity pursuits...

For the record, while I prepare the next post with my own personal experience of the day.

About ten minutes before the gassing started I was where the cell phone add was (white, black sash), at the end of the curve. That is where we decided to go back as it was becoming impossible to go further and people were already going back. Within minutes the police was bombing the area and and a few minutes after we had to take refuge in the street on the right in an eatery that shall remain nameless because they have already been in trouble.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The dictator's hour

So we are in a dictatorship. And this one has made new progress these past days to prove to the world it is so.  We had Sunday a totally infamous presentation by the president Nicolas Maduro where live on TV he decided who is guilty of what and how.  This based on torture.  Yesterday he went further on that path convoking the militia to Caracas to stop the massive opposition protest planned for tomorrow and forcing the army to repeat once again their indefectible oath to the revolution and its heir, the dictator.  As a bonus he promised to arm the militia, which one needs to be recalled , is not constitutional. But details are not the regime's forte.

The army today is controlling all the streets it can and all the entries to Caracas to make sure protesters do not come to fill in Caracas protests. Useless as the opposition is convoking protests in all major cities of Venezuela. You need not go to Caracas to state that Maduro is a piece of shit: you can do it in the comfort of your own city where repression awaits for you all the same than in Caracas. Decentralization at its best.

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Maundy Thursday to remember

What is remarkable today, more than the actual events, some horrific enough, is that they actually took place. For those not familiar with Venezuelan holiday habits, the Holy Week, from the Friday before Palm Sunday (viernes de concilio) until Easter is the biggest vacation time of the year. Whoever can get the week off leaves Caracas (or any provincial capital) to visit relatives, go to the beach, etc. When I was a kid there was not even a bakery open on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Not even movies!  TV only showed old biblical cheesy movies. Things have changed since but Good Friday still remains mostly closed. And the rest of the week still is in slow motion, but effervescent on any Venezuelan beach.

This year the regime tried to revive these habits out of political expediency: public employees got the week off. The idea was to have as many people leave Caracas as protests kept mounting. It has not worked.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Week 2 of the dictatorship: assorted pelting

The sensation yesterday was Maduro in San Felix receiving egg on his face, literally. Though I doubt it was egg considering their price and the lack of food.  Make that rotten eggs and stones and dog shit as the more likely projectiles.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The 2017 French ElectionS

We make a welcome pause in the covering of the Venezuelan protest to discuss the coming French elections where yours truly has a very hard time to decide who he is going to vote for.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Week 2 of the dictatorship: notching up the repression

I will be brief tonight. It will be all about how repression increases.

That is right, watch the video, now the regime drops over protesters tear gas cans, which may kill someone if hit directly. Think about that for a second. This is material for The Hague, of the best quality.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Week 2 of the dictatorship: Elections now? That ship has sailed!

Yesterday show of strength by the opposition, in numbers and determination, has shaken the regime, and in particular Maduro who does not have the intellectual heft to understand what is truly going on in the country. His evilness and street smarts can only go so far, no matter how much the Cubans are trying to direct him. And they took him way farther than anyone expected! I am not saying that he is done with, one should never underestimate people who think along mafia lines or feel like cornered dogs. What I am saying is that when people have as their lone strategy violence, cynicism and bald faced lies, then they are at their wit's end.

Today Maduro did his Sunday show and announced that he could not wait for elections so as to trounce the opposition and radicalize the revolution. Oh my! Where do I start?

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Week 2 of the dictatorship: tensing more and more

The protest was huge today. HUUGE...  Chacao filled up like in its best days.

An air of "Venezuelan Spring"

And thus was the reaction of the regime, repression more brutal tan before, a rain of tear gas but also direct shots with tear gas canisters which I understand is forbidden internationally.  Whatever it is, the regime has sent its troops not only to repress but also in too many cases to rob the people they catch taking away their cellular phones, at least.

In the evening when all was supposedly done, the regime managed to slip in a tear gas bomb in the offices of Capriles in Caracas, setting them on fire. At midnight the army with heavy weaponry presented itself at the site "for inquiry". Scare tactics everywhere, whenever.  The worry is what will we do with all those corrupt security personnel when this is over. From denazification to dechavistation.

But perhaps the main message of the day, besides the radicalization of the protest and repression, is that the opposition, without newspapers and without TV or radio is managing to pass its message very successfully. Internet will have to go.  And there is another message: outside of Caracas protest are also crescendo. And rallies in support of the regime are weak and in Caracas only.

Only repression is left for Maduro. The only questions are how far and how long.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

On to week 2 of dictatorship: getting rid of nuisances

Today was calm compared to yesterday but equally important.

The news of course is the annulation of political rights for Capriles. When his term as governor of Miranda ends, then for 15 years he will not be able to run for any office, not even for dog catcher. Inasmuch as this is the flashy headline, that Capriles is barred from future office is not quite the main news of the day: this one we will have to piece it together.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Week 1 of dictatorship: article 333 and 350 against 337 and 338

What happened today?  Much more than a simple protest march.

Chavismo was unable to put up a counter march worth its name. Apparently a mere couple of blocks sort of filled up, a salsa band and some very dangerous speeches. Today's words of Aristobulo Isturiz, Freddy Bernal and Diosdado Cabello are enough to be added as definitive evidence on their dossier for The Hague. And furthermore, if the opposition had a huge march in Caracas, it also had many significant marches in the provinces. None that I know of from chavismo. And the opposition did all that in 24 hour notice.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Week 1 of the dictatorship: protests are mounting in spite of brutal repression



Today the opposition is taken the streets again, and this time around there is national move for that. The regime replies in the only way it knows, unable to update its modus operandi. For example they blocked early all access to Caracas, and closed 16 subway stations for good measure. That way protest marchers will not be able to make it to Caracas or to the rallying points. That workers cannot do so is of no concern, even though Caracas will look like a dead city today.

But the regime is cornered so here anything is good to stop the opposition.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Day 6 of the dictatorship: back to the streets

I  will be brief because today I could not follow events and only learned about the mess driving around El Recreo/Av. Libertador mid afternoon. The show was over but I crossed many an attempt at barricade, burning trash bags, rocks strewn over the streets...  It clearly had been rough and back at a computer at 5 PM I could watch some of the videos that were a hit, so to speak, today.

And yet this morning I should have got the warning. The regime not only monitored and blocked access to Caracas as much as it could, but the subway stations that could carry opposition marchers to the meeting point were closed "to protect the integrity of the stations and its workers" as if Caracas subway had ever been a battle field. What the regime was afraid is that the opposition would show the world it was back in the streets like in September when the regime felt on the edge of the cliff. Anything was good enough to lower attendance.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Day 2 of the dictatorship: an evening of NO

The bomb of Luisa Ortega stating that the high court decisions are unconstitutional has gone around the world. Really, even French TV talked about it tonight. This means that the world KNOWS perfectly well that in Venezuela there is no separation of power, that all are mere employees of the executive branch. What would have been a mere judicial dissenting opinion in a normal country, making it or not to the nightly local news, becomes in Venezuela world news.