Caracas, August 31st 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com)
- Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega announced on Friday that protesters who
disturb "tranquility and public peace" would face criminal charges, after a
series of opposition protests turned violent. The protests are aimed at destabilising
the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Ortega said.
"People who disturb order and peace to create instability of
institutions, to destabilize the government, or attack the democratic system,"
will be charged, regardless of their political persuasion, Ortega said in a
In recent weeks Venezuelan opposition groups have staged a series of
violent protests against the new Education Law passed on August 14th,
claiming it will lead to ‘socialist indoctrination,' despite the fact that the
new law specifically prohibits political proselytising of any kind in the
The most vehement opposition to the law, which prohibits religious education
during school hours, increases access to education for the poor, and guarantees
"education as a universal human right," has come predominantly from the association
of rectors of Venezuela's major autonomous and private universities, opposition
political parties, much of the privately owned media, and the Catholic Church.
In the period leading up to the debate over the law in the National Assembly
many private media outlets called for protests against the law and circulated
the false claim that it would allow the state to take arbitrary custody of
children between the ages of three and twenty for ‘socialist indoctrination.'
However, Ortega dismissed opposition claims as untrue saying they are
simply looking for "any reason to create chaos."
"All they want is to destabilize," she said. "The Public Ministry won't
allow this to continue."
Prosecutors announced on Friday that eleven officials employed by the opposition
Mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, had been charged in relation to various
offences, allegedly committed at protests on August 22nd and 26th,
including resisting authorities, interfering with police communications systems,
damaging public property and severely injuring a police officer.
Among those arrested was Caracas Prefect Ricardo Blanco, who is charged
with incitement to crime and seriously injuring a police officer in relation to
an incident on August 22nd in which a Metropolitan police officer, Jhonatan
Bermúdez, was severely beaten, during a several thousand strong opposition
Blanco, who is being held in Yare jail, has also been accused of physically
assaulting VTV journalist Erika Ortega, but has not been charged over the
Another participant in the August 22nd protest, Jose Miguel
Peña Rodríguez, was also arrested for possessing a stolen firearm. The gun, a
38-calibre revolver was reported stolen by the branch of the CICPC (Venezuela's
investigative police) in the municipality
of Chacao. Peña Rodríguez
is identified as the bodyguard of city councillor Maribel Castillo, from the
opposition party Podemos.
During the August 22nd protest one government opponent told
Avila TV, "all it would take is one bullet in the head to fix Chavez," while
others called for a coup d'état "like the one in Honduras."
On August 12th a small group of opposition protestors also
attacked the state educational administration building in Nueva Esparta state,
attempting to force their way into the premises, causing minor injuries to some
workers and damages to offices in the process.
José Marcano, president of the Unitary Teacher's Force Union (SINAFUM),
who was participating in a separate protest related to a workplace dispute and
witnessed the incident said, "They were not representatives of teachers, nor
were they teachers, they were political groups."
Then on August 29 government opponents attacked and vandalized the state
educational administration building in San Cristobal, capital of the opposition-
controlled state of Táchira.
Otto Lenin Parada, regional education chief, blamed Táchira opposition
governor César Pérez Vivas for the violence.
"The person responsible here, the material and intellectual author of
these actions is César Alejandro Pérez Vivas, fascist governor of the state of Táchira,"
The individuals who participated in the attack on the educational
institution have been identified as belonging to the opposition political
parties COPEI (Pérez Vivas's party) and Democratic Action, he added.
Parada called on the Attorney General's office to open an investigation
into the incident.