Saturday’s Unrest: Guarimba Violence vs. Chavista Salsa Therapy

This weekend, Venezuela witnessed two distinct mobilizations: one peacefully favoring the Bolivarian process and the other, bent on its demise, taking to the streets in violent protest.

Venezuelans rallied across Caracas on Saturday in pro and anti-government mobilizations. Opposition forces took to the streets over the weekend continuing their mobilizations against the Bolivarian government and more recently in response to an order by the Comptroller General Friday banning opposition leader Henrique Capriles from holding government office for fifteen years.

Despite its initial peaceful character, the march soon turned violent following a surprise announcement by opposition leaders that the mobilization would proceed to the National Ombudsman’s office in central Caracas, despite lacking the necessary permit. 

Opposition supporters mimicked tactics used during 2014’s violent anti-government protests that saw massive destruction of public and private property as well as hundreds of injuries and 43 deaths across the country. Protesters confronted Bolivarian authorities, hurling molotov bombs, rocks, and bottles while also defacing a Supreme Court office in Chacao.

One day earlier, Vice-President Tareck El Aissami referred to the opposition’s scheduled Saturday mobilization as unconstitutional stating, “The nature of this march is already violent. We just learned that they want to call a mobilization and once there, say where they’re going. They are looking for a provocation… If it were a peaceful and constitutional call [to protest], they would have a set route.”

Last Friday, Venezuela’s Comptroller General office issued an official ban against opposition leader Henrique Capriles for “illicit administrative” practices during his current tenure as Miranda state governor. It is reported that Capriles approved international agreements with European embassies without proper government authorization and did not meet basic commitments to his post such as presenting the state budget in 2013.

According to the opposition, the ban on Capriles represents another “coup” by the Maduro administration a little over a week after the Supreme Court handed down a pair of controversial decisions that temporarily allowed the judiciary to exercise certain legislative functions. The rulings were challenged as unconstitutional by the Venezuelan attorney general and subsequently reversed.

Nonetheless, Venezuela’s opposition has vowed to indefinitely continue street protests until the government meets their demands, including bringing forward presidential elections scheduled for 2018.

Meanwhile, along Bolivar Avenue, Chavistas organized a cultural event with recreational and sporting activities for all ages. 

“The people’s participation in this cultural act is a sign of love, that we are against violence. We are calling for peace, dialogue,” expressed Gabriel Silva, an activist with the sex and gender diversity movement, to Venezuelan state media outlet AVN.  

Children participated in sports such as boxing, soccer, and other activities, and musical groups put on concerts as part of the day’s programming. Different state-sponsored social programs were present, including the Nevado Mission, which is dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of animals.

Venezuelan authorities, including firefighters and civil protection units, also facilitated first aid workshops geared towards educating citizens about risk assessment.

Text by Venezuelanalysis.com. 

Images from AlbaCiudad and Agencias.