Merida, 26th February 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – A 34 year old man, Jimmy Vargas, died on Monday while he was involved in a violent street blockade. Some opposition leaders and media blamed the government, however video footage shows it was an accident. Two other people have died this week as a result of the blockades.
Vargas died at the Camino Real residential area, in San Cristobal, Tachira state. Footage, sent to CNN shows that it was an accident. However, CNN and other news agencies also broadcast repeatedly footage of Vargas’ mother blaming the National Guard and president Nicolas Maduro for the death.
Carmen Gonzalez, the mother, stated, “Maduro and those around him killed [my son], they are the ones who killed him, they killed him, they are the ones who gave the orders for him to be killed, they are killing all of Venezuela… and I’m going to go out and fight for my son, my son died fighting for his country, fighting for the freedom of his country…”
On social networks the story was spread that Vargas had been hit by a rubber buckshot in his left eye, and other stories claimed a tear gas canister shot by the National Guard had hit him.
The newspaper El Nacional also blamed the government, headlining “Two deaths this Monday because of attacks by GNB [National Guard] and motorbike riders [government supporters] on protests”. Madurados.com headlined “Another tragedy! In rubber buckshot attack by the GNB Jimmy Vargas dies in San Cristobal”.
Similarly, The New York Times included a ¼ page full-color photo of Jimmy Vargas on a stretcher, with the caption, “Carmen Gonzalez, 58, cried over the body of her son, who was killed Monday in clashes with the police.”
However Vargas’ doctor, Luis Diaz, reported that he had suffered severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) after falling from the second floor of a building, the newspaper Ultimas Noticias reported.
Vargas’ sister, Jindry, told NTN24 that her brother fell from the second floor the building after the National Guard fired rubber buckshot and tear gas bombs at him, causing him to lose his balance. In the video Jimmy Vargas tried to climb down on to a balcony ledge and he lost his balance on the ledge, out of line of shot of the National Guard.
Further, the opposition mayor of San Cristobal, Daniel Cebellos, told the public that Vargas had been murdered. He tweeted on Monday night, “Since late night…the brutal attack of the GNB continues, more than 10 injuries (3 by bullet) and 1 youth of 34 years murdered”. He continued, “I call on the MUD [opposition coalition] that while they continue to kill our people in the streets there’s no peace for the government. The dialogue they propose is one big lie”.
Despite the evidence, Cebellos further tweeted this morning, “We are accompanying Jimmy Vargas and his family in this moment of grief. We reject the violence and repression.” Cebellos included a photo of Vargas’ funeral procession.
Tachira governor, Vielma Mora accused Cebellos of using a public funeral procession to “inflame” people “against the national government”.
“A citizen who, may he rest in peace, fell from the second floor, he was in guarimba (violent disturbances), it seems he lost his balance… do you know what the mayor of San Cristobal did with a few people? They paraded him through the city… like a war trophy”.
Meanwhile, there has been another death as a result of violent opposition blockades. El Carabobeño reported that a motorbike rider died last night after crashing into a barricade. Eduardo Anzola, 29, in Valencia, died instantly, the paper reported, after he didn’t see the barricade because of the darkness. Two other people have died as a result of crashing into barricades, in Caracas and Merida, and one other motorbike rider was killed when wire at a barricade cut his throat.
On Monday, Alba Ciudad and Panorama report that Antonio Valbuena, 32, died of a shot to the head, in Maracaibo. Valbuena was participating in a demonstration of motorbike riders, who were removing barricades so that their procession could get through. At one point, a witness said that a “man in a balaclava came out and began to shoot…one of the bullets hit Antonio in the head”.