Pro-RCTV Students Continue to March in Caracas

University students continued to march in the Venezuelan capital this week against the government decision to not renew the broadcast license of the private television channel RCTV.

Caracas, June 6, 2007 (— University students continued to march in the Venezuelan capital this week against the government decision to not renew the broadcast license of the private television channel RCTV. Following a march on Sunday, Students marched again on Monday, to the Supreme Court building in central Caracas, to submit a formal document to this body. Today students marched from the Central University of Venezuela to office of the Attorney General to submit another list of demands.

Thousands of students from many different universities tossed carnations to police in the streets as they marched through the streets of Caracas on Monday. The march ended at the Supreme Court building where students presented written demands to Chief Justice Luisa Estela Morales demanding the court to uphold Venezuelans’ civil rights.

"We’re here to demand our right to demonstrate outside government buildings and anywhere else in the city," said one student leader outside the Supreme Court building.

The students are asking the court for the right to protest in all parts of the city after being denied government permission last Friday to march to the National Assembly building located in the historical center of Caracas. Students painted their hands white, passed out carnations, and shouted "Here are the students that want freedom," and "They want to take away our right to protest."

At the Supreme Court building the marchers were met with a security blockade by the National Guard to protect the court building, and a commission of 30 students was allowed to enter the building to submit their written demands. The student document given to justice Morales demanded the court to uphold the students’ rights "to move, gather and demonstrate freely without discrimination, and to participate in the democratic process."

After accusations on the part of the government, and Chavez himself, that the students are being used as political tools by the opposition political parties and in a larger destabilization plan, students emphasized that they are not connected to political parties.

"We are totally disconnected from the parties, we are talking about universal ideas and not partisanship," said one student from the Catholic University Andres Bello (UCAB).

Chavez assured over the weekend that the student protestors are "victims of manipulation" and are being utilized in a plan for a coup that is being organized and directed by the Venezuelan oligarchy together with the United States.

The students rejected this claim during the march by shouting "We are students, we are not coup leaders."

Students from the Central University of Venezuela (UCV) carried out another major march today that, according to the students, for the first time included university leaders and professors. The march started at the Central University (UCV) and headed to the Attorney General’s office.

The President of the UCV, Antonio Paris, submitted a document to Attorney General Isaias Rodriguez, which rejected the non-renewal of RCTV’s broadcast license. Student leaders then spoke to Rodriguez, about freedom of speech, university autonomy, and the right to demonstrate.

In response to the students’ demand that all those who were arrested last week in the wake of the confrontations between students and police, Rodriguez clarified that all of the 180 persons that had been arrested last week, all but nine have been freed. These nine, though, are not students and are all over 35 years old.

Students from the Catholic University Andrés Bello (UCAB) also announced that they would head to the National Assembly on Thursday to debate with legislators there. Assembly member Ismael Garcia committed on Monday that he would request from the secretary of the National Assembly (AN) the right for the students to speak before this body, to which the AN president Celia Flores agreed.

On Friday the students hope to protest in four major squares in central Caracas. However, the Mayor of Caracas said that the students did not submit the required permit application to on time. Protesters did not have a permit for today’s march either, according to the Mayor’s office.