Venezuelans Protest Bolivia Coup After Diplomatic Break

The de facto government in La Paz has broken relations with Caracas and recognised Guaido.

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Venezuelan Chavistas flooded the streets Saturday in support of the Bolivian anti-coup struggle and against “imperialism” and “fascism.” (Hector Teran / MIPPCI Press)
Venezuelan Chavistas flooded the streets Saturday in support of the Bolivian anti-coup struggle and against “imperialism” and “fascism.” (Hector Teran / MIPPCI Press)
By Paul Dobson
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Mérida, November 18, 2019 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Chavista forces took to the streets of Caracas on Saturday to protest against the on-going coup d’état in Bolivia.

The sizeable march followed a number of similar activities held across the country last week, including a rally held by a number of grassroots groups in front of the Bolivian embassy in Caracas last Tuesday. Protests were also held on Saturday in Nicaragua, Panama, Argentina, and other countries around the world.

Addressing the Caracas crowd, President Nicolas Maduro lauded the forceful “anti-imperialist and anti-fascist” demonstration, which he criticised the international press for “ignoring.”

Speaking in support of ousted Bolivian President and close ally Evo Morales, Maduro denounced the subsequent persecution of the indigenous population, military repression, and Washington’s role in installing a de facto government in Bolivia, claiming that the coup was executed because “Trump gave the order to overthrow the indigenous [leader Morales].”

Those on the march also expressed their outrage at the “imperialist coup.”

“We are supporting our brother Evo Morales who was overthrown by a coup led by the military and the oligarchy,” oil worker Victor Armado told reporters.

Similarly, socialist legislator Pedro Carreno made reference to US President Donald Trump’s remarks suggesting that Venezuela’s government may be the next to fall following the overthrow of Morales. “[They] think they are coming for Venezuela, but we say to imperialism that the [Venezuelan] people are prepared, awake, and in the streets.”

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A man holds a placard at the Caracas march which reads “The people are with you. This coup is illegal. Long live the Bolivarian Revolution. Evo you are not alone. Long live Bolivia.” (Reference)
A man holds a placard at the Caracas march which reads “The people are with you. This coup is illegal. Long live the Bolivarian Revolution. Evo you are not alone. Long live Bolivia.” (Reference)

President Morales was forced to flee Bolivia on November 10 after the armed forces requested his resignation. He had been declared the winner of the presidential election with 47 percent of the vote, but unsubstantiated claims of “fraud” sparked weeks of right wing violence.

In the wake of his resignation, opposition lawmaker Jeanine Anez declared herself “president” in front of a near-empty senate two days later. Lawmakers from Morales’ Movement to Socialism party refused to participate in the session, and have denounced violent persecution. Anez was immediately recognised by right wing governments in Washington, London, Bogota and Brasilia.

Recent days have seen mobilisations from indigenous and rural movements against the coup met by repression from the armed forces. By Sunday, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights had verified over 23 deaths and 715 injured.

Anez government breaks diplomatic relations

Three days after her self-proclamation, Bolivia’s de facto president broke diplomatic relations with the Maduro government. Diplomatic personnel were flown back to Caracas immediately after attacks on the embassy building. The new authorities also broke relations with Cuba and announced their withdrawal from the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA).

Speaking from Caracas, Venezuela’s ambassador to Bolivia, Crisbeylee Gonzalez, told press that the personal security of diplomatic personnel was not guaranteed by Bolivia’s new government.

“[The Anez government] is a dictatorship, which does not recognise international law (…) On the last day they wanted to break into the embassy,” she said. On November 10, Gonzalez had also denounced attacks by alleged “dynamite-carrying hooded assailants.”

Tensions surrounding Venezuela’s diplomatic missions were also reported in Brazil on Wednesday, where Venezuela’s Brasilia embassy was attacked by Guaido loyalists in the early morning, with local grassroots movements helping to evict them.

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Venezuela’s diplomatic team in La Paz was quickly flown home after threats against their safety and the breaking of diplomatic ties. (Prensa Cancilleria)
Venezuela’s diplomatic team in La Paz was quickly flown home after threats against their safety and the breaking of diplomatic ties. (Prensa Cancilleria)

In place of the outgoing diplomatic staff, Anez has invited Venezuela’s self-declared “interim president,” Juan Guaido, to name a new envoy to the Andean nation.

Guaido recognised his Bolivian counterpart via Twitter last week, urging his supporters to find “inspiration” in the Bolivian example.

“From the legitimate government of Venezuela we recognise Jeanine Anez as Interim President of Bolivia [...]. You are an inspiration for our country, we have the conviction that we will achieve liberty,” he wrote.

Guaido protest ‘a failure’

Guaido supporters also took to the streets Saturday in a long-anticipated protest against the Maduro government, spurred on by events in Bolivia.

Following the peaceful demonstration, Reuters described the participation as “less optimistic” and “significantly smaller” than previous opposition marches, while Venezuelan private news network Globovision classed it “a failure.”

Speaking in Caracas, Guaido told supporters that “This is the moment to achieve the necessary pressure (…) Our sister Bolivia achieved her liberty with unity and constant mobilisation. We have also had mobilisation and unity, now it is time to sustain it, to advance,” he went on, before calling for “continuous street protests” starting Monday. Initial reports suggest an equally low turnout for Monday’s protests, and an opposition group is planning to go to Fuerte Tiuna Caracas military base on Thursday to “convince” the military to support their efforts at ousting the government.

The opposition march was held without disruption, with the only reported incident being a scuffle in Altamira Square after opposition supporter Carlos Caballero unveiled a placard reading “Guaido a fraud.” The incident quickly went viral on social media.

The demonstration took place in wealthy east Caracas before being diverted to the Bolivian embassy, reportedly to show support for the Anez regime. Upon arriving at the embassy, a group of Guaido supporters attempted to forcibly enter the building, only to be repelled by police. On-the-spot journalist Roman Camacho explained that, following the detour, “the majority of the marchers left, annoyed.”

Small anti-government gatherings were also held in some other parts of the country on Saturday, with five arrests reported in Anzoátegui State and four in Lara State following scuffles with security forces.

Prior to Saturday’s protests, opposition leaders denounced an attack on the national offices of Guaido’s Popular Will Party on Friday, in which hooded men armed with rifles allegedly entered the building and stole worker’s phones. Venezuelan authorities are yet to comment on the incident.

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Guaido supporters march along the Santa Fe Overpass in Caracas (Globovision)
Guaido supporters march along the Santa Fe Overpass in Caracas (Globovision)

Edited by Ricardo Vaz from Caracas.

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