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Protests, Disturbances, and Violence Continue in Venezuela, General Strike a “Failure”

Merida, April 16th 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) –  This afternoon president Maduro said the opposition’s call for a general strike today had “failed”. He also blamed the losing candidate in Sunday’s elections, Henrique Capriles, for the seven deaths last night.

Maduro said last night’s violence was part of a plan “to take Venezuela off the road of democracy”, and called on the people to be peaceful and not “fall for provocations”.

He also declared “the coup d’état defeated”, and inaugurated a health centre in Miranda state. However he said it seemed the “destabilisations will continue”. Though there has been no direct attempt to overthrow the government, some government authorities have referred to the opposition’s refusal to recognise the election results as a “coup” or part of an attempt to bring about a coup.

President of the National Electoral Council (CNE) Tibisay Lucena said yesterday that the electoral system functioned “perfectly” on Sunday. She urged Henrique Capriles, who has not recognised the results, to use legal methods to present his complaints. 54% of the votes were audited on Sunday in the presence of booth witnesses from both political parties, and no problems were found, but opposition protestors are demanding that 100% of the votes be recounted.

Telesur reports that according to CNE norms, the opposition have “twenty [working] days to contest the results, they can do it through the Supreme Court, or the CNE, but they should formalise it, and not do it through the media”.

“Majority is majority, and should be respected under a democracy, they shouldn’t seek ambushes and invent things in order to make popular sovereignty vulnerable... that has just one name, “coup-ism” [golpismo],” Maduro said yesterday.

Monday’s aggressions

Last night seven people were killed as a result of opposition violence; two in Caracas, three in Ojeda, Zulia, one in Cumana, and one person in San Cristobal.

The opposition set fire to 18 Central Diagnostic Centres (CDIs – part of the Barrio Adentro health mission), and 3 subsidised food markets (Mercals). They also attacked the director of the CNE, Tibisay Lucena’s house, and the Telesur and VTV offices.

There are also unconfirmed reports of four attacks on housing mission buildings in Miranda, with seven people killed and ten injured.

The governor of Carabobo state, Francisco Ameliach, reported that 8 CDIs were “besieged” and Cuban doctors were attacked in his state. He said 64 people were detained inside the CDI, and “should go to jail, because we’re not going to tolerate a coup d’état here”.

In Merida, around 700 mostly young opposition students protested outside the CNE, as well as in four other places in the city. Venezuelanalysis.com observed that police presence was light, and most police unarmed.  Many of the students armed themselves with rocks and glass bottles however, as though hoping something would happen. There were similar such protests outside most of the country’s main CNE headquarters.

Many people have posted photos around social networks, claiming they are of the CNE disposing of Sunday’s ballot boxes, though they are in fact of the CNE disposing of 2010 voting boxes, as the law requires. Media like La Patilla and RCTV have also used the photos.

Further, pundit Nelson Bocaranda tweeted that the “CDI in La Paz, Gallo Verde, Maracaibo is hiding some electoral boxes and the Cubans there won’t allow them to be removed”. Opposition television station Globovision has been arguing that “if they don’t want to count the votes, they must have something to hide”.

Capriles called for marches around the country to each state’s head CNE office for today, and for a large march lead by him tomorrow to the headquarters of the CNE in Caracas.

President of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, reported through Twitter that he will propose an investigation to the assembly against Capriles for the acts of violence. Luisa Ortega said the public prosecutor’s office will investigate the seven confirmed deaths.

Further, the suspension of the right to carry arms in place during the election, as is the custom, has been extended to this Saturday 6.00pm, following last night’s violence.

State, municipal, and national police are also confined to barracks until Saturday. Police need permission from  the National Bolivarian Armed Forces strategic operational command to intervene or act on any of the violence taking place.

Published on Apr 16th 2013 at 2.20pm