Venezuela's Maduro Accuses Opposition Mayor of Supporting Violence

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has threatened to arrest third opposition mayor, who is accused advocating street violence.

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim

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Maduro accused Chacao's mayor of backing street violence on Thursday. (agencies)
Maduro accused Chacao's mayor of backing street violence on Thursday. (agencies)
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Mérida, 21th March 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has threatened to arrest third opposition mayor, who is accused advocating street violence.

On Thursday, Maduro released a video recording which he says shows opposition mayor of the Chacao municipality of Caracas, Ramon Muchacho calling for a coup, and backing violent demonstrators.

An affluent area of the capital, Chacao has been paralysed by protests and opposition barricades since last month. Repeated demonstrations have taken place in Altamira Square, along with roadblocks and attacks on security forces. Earlier this week, security forces retook the square, removing barricades and cleaning the area of garbage.

In the recording released on Thursday, Muchacho can appear to be heard stating “the government must go”.

“This was a neighbourhood meeting,” Maduro stated while presenting the recording.

“At the end [Muchacho] says a key phrase: don't think that we started this struggle to have corn flour, this fight is for the regime to go,” Maduro stated.

Maduro warned that the government could take action against Muchacho, hinting at arrest.

Two other opposition mayors in protest-hit municipalities were detained by authorities earlier this week. The opposition mayor of San Cristobal, Daniel Ceballos is being investigated for failing to remove opposition roadblocks in the city despite an order from Venezuela's Supreme Court. He also faces charges of rebellion and conspiracy.

Enzo Scarano, mayor of San Diego, Valencia, has been jailed for likewise failing to carry out a similar order from the Supreme Court. The arrests prompted thousands of opposition supporters to march in Caracas on Thursday. The demonstration turned violent, with some protesters attacking police with rocks. Police reportedly responded with tear gas and water cannons.

Both Scarano and Ceballos are being held in Ramo Verde prison near Caracas.

Maduro stated that Muchacho too could “end up in Ramo Verde”.

However, Muchacho has denied supporting violence, and says the footage is misleading.

“The government could put up the whole video,” he stated on Thursday night.

Muchacho has said he will fight the allegations.

“Because when you see the president saying those things on television, showing an edited video...trying to contextualise the things I said, you worry with good reason,” the mayor stated.

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