Caracas, April 4, 2018 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Seventeen people were arrested in Caracas Tuesday for allegedly attacking the campaign caravan of opposition presidential candidate Henri Falcon. President Nicolas Maduro announced the arrests the following day, vowing his government’s full support for an investigation to bring those responsible to justice.
Henri Falcon is the presidential candidate for the opposition parties Progressive Advance, Movement Towards Socialism, and Christian Democratic COPEI, who defied a boycott by the main right-wing opposition coalition, the MUD, in order to participate in the upcoming May 20 elections. A former Chavista, Falcon was campaigning in the working class western Caracas barrio of Catia, when an altercation broke out in Plaza Sucre Monday involving some thirty assailants.
The ensuing clash left Teodoro Campos, who is a National Assembly deputy and Falcon’s security chief, hospitalized with a severe head injury. According to declarations made by Falcon, Campos remains in a critical condition due to what appears to have been a blow to the head using brass knuckles.
President Maduro vigorously condemned the attack Tuesday, making known that he opposes any violence in the lead up to the May 20 presidential vote.
“I ask the people of Venezuela to keep the peace and campaign for the elections with festive dancing, music, and pedagogic ideas… We must guarantee that there is peace,” he said while inaugurating the Martin Luther King University Complex in Lara State.
“Chavistas are peaceful people,” the president stated, adding that those responsible for attacking Falcon’s caravan “will be punished with jail.” In particular, Maduro blamed revolutionary organizations operating in Caracas’ barrios, known as “collectives,” for the attack, distancing his government from the groups.
“Anyone claiming to be 'Chavista' or a member of a 'collective' and does what that group did yesterday in Catia, in Caracas, then they're not 'Chavista,” he said.
Valentin Santana, head of the Piedrita collective in the west of Caracas, offered a different version of the events on Monday, claiming that members of his group were attacked by the National Bolivarian Police during Falcon’s visit to Catia. Santana insisted that the popular movement was confronting Falcon’s incursion into the barrio with revolutionary music when the Bolivarian Police force accosted members of his group, allegedly wounding ten. On Wednesday, Santana published a tweet calling for “everyone to vote for Nicolas Maduro in a peaceful campaign on May 20.”
For his part, Falcon blamed the attacks on Maduro, calling for the president to control “his armed groups.” Nevertheless, the opposition candidate assured that he would continue the campaign.
“Nothing will detain us,” Falcon said, “We will continue on our path to taking power in Venezuela.”