Merida, 4th February 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Six people have been arrested after opposition supporters protested and attacked the Cuban baseball team, currently competing in the Caribbean Series in Margarita, Venezuela. The opposition also held meetings over the weekend to discuss methods to “get rid of” the national government.
Cuban baseball team attacked
On Sunday around one hundred people held placards saying things such as “Cuba go home” outside Hotel Venetur on Margarita Island where the Cuban team Villa Clara was staying during the tournament.
This year is the first time a Cuban team is competing, after it left the series in 1960 when it changed its policy towards professional sports and the payments that sports players receive. Cuba had wanted to rejoin the regional confederation since 1999, but wasn’t willing to pay the necessary sums to do so.
President Nicolas Maduro said those who had tried to attack the Cuban team were “cowards” and would receive the “most severe punishment”.
Six people were arrested on Sunday. They allegedly tried to violently prevent the baseball team and its staff from entering Venetur, throwing objects against the bus the Cuban team was in.
“The Caribbean Series should be a fraternal event, people shouldn’t be promoting violence,” Maduro said.
Carlos Mata Figueroa, the state governor, also commented that the protestors were “motivated by mental slowness that is a result of psychotic disassociation that doesn’t allow them to reason or think about the …country. These people committed crimes and attacked soldiers of the Bolivarian National Guard. We can’t allow this”.
Figueroa said he had received “lots of messages” from both political sides rejecting the violence.
The government is also now implementing more serious security measures to protect the Cuban team and those attending the tournament, including a total of1887 national police and soldiers. The tournament goes until 8 February.
Over the last two years sectors of the opposition have burnt Cuban flags, effigies of revolutionary Fidel Castro and blockaded the Cuban embassy. The protests were supposedly against “Castro-communism”, the health care Cuba provided to Chavez while he was ill, and Venezuela’s relationship with the country, which has provided Venezuela with tens of thousands of doctors and sports workers, and advice for overcoming illiteracy.
The opposition held a range of public meetings on Sunday around the country, including in Margarita before the protest. In Chacaito, a wealthy suburb of Caracas, opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez, Antonio Ledezma, and Maria Corina Machado discussed what they called a “constitutional way out”.
Ledezma argued that the “way out” should involve unity and “getting the people into the streets”. He called for a large mobilisation on 12 February, the day of the youth in Venezuela.
Lopez further argued that all “ways out”; a constitutional amendment, the president renouncing his office, a recall referendum, civil disobedience or a national constituent assembly, involve people going out into the street.
“They should all leave, there should be a complete … change in those who are in power… It’s clear now that the problem isn’t just Maduro, it’s all the heads of the public powers who have kidnapped the state,” Lopez said at the meeting.
According to Ultimas Noticias, a similar such meeting, held in Valencia, “ended with a violent brawl that left… three people injured”.
Edwin Gomez, a regional coordinator of the far right Popular Will party, said over 500 people gathered for the meeting to discuss “different ways out of the crisis”. He claimed a small group of the participants tried to block a freeway, and were removed by the National Guard. He blamed “infiltrators” for the brawl.
Tal Cual reported that a survey was distributed at the public meetings asking participants when a “change in regime” should occur.
EFE reported that ex opposition presidential candidate, Henrique Capriles said on Sunday that the opposition coalition, the MUD, was in a “process of revision”. He accused other opposition leaders of trying to remove him from the leadership, and of “sitting next to one or behind one… with a knife in their hand to stab one with”.