Puebla, Mexico, July 12, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s opposition protesters were accused Monday of attacking an indigenous meeting space and community radio station, as unrest continues in the South American country.
The Perijanera 95.1 community radio station in Machiques de Perija, Zulia, was reportedly attacked Monday afternoon. Approximately at 4.30pm, the attackers allegedly torched the exterior of the building, damaging the radio station’s broadcast equipment, according to reports carried by state media. As opposition groups stormed the building, journalists and other staffers were reportedly forced to flee, before later being rescued by National Guard troops.
Perijanera 95.1 coordinator Pedro Gonzalez condemned the attack.
“Once again the fascist right is attacking the popular media, created by Comandante Hugo Chavez to defend the revolution and give the people an opportunity to express themselves,” Gonzalez told state media.
Gonzalez said the radio station provides a critical service to local indigenous communities, which have long complained of a lack of media representation.
“This is the only means of communication for the people of Machiques to spread their ideas and defend the revolutionary process,” he said.
Gonzalez continued by drawing comparisons between the current wave of political unrest and the coup of 2002, when President Nicolas Maduro’s predecessor, Chavez, was temporarily forced from office by an opposition group.
“In 2002, our equipmen was also burnt, and they attacked one of the popular journalists while they were on air,” he said.
Venezuela’s communications minister Ernesto Villegas also condemned the attack, describing it as “fascist hatred against Chavez's legacy”.
Along with the radio station, the adjacent indigenous meeting space was also reportedly attacked. Both offices are part of a larger facility that also houses a branch of the indigenous ministry, along with a government-backed development corporation.
The mayor of Machiques, Alfonso Toto Marquez, warned Monday’s incident was an attack on the welfare of the community.
“Our struggle is peaceful, and without arms," he told state media.
The attack came during an uptick of political unrest in Zulia state, which is home to Venezuela’s second largest city, Maracaibo.
More than 70 people have been arrested across the state this week in connection to outbursts of violent demonstrations and looting, according to official figures.
Newspaper El Universal reported Monday’s unrest brought much of central Maracaibo to a standstill, with protests, barricades and roadblocks also being reported in the city’s north and west.
The unrest was part of a broader day of action by the opposition, which included a call for a 10 hour blockage of main roads across the country. Three people were reported dead in the ensuing violence.