Global Marches For and Against Venezuelan President See Mixed Turnout

In response to a "global" protest promoted over against Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, there were marches and rallies across Venezuela and in various other countries on Friday and Saturday to both support Chavez and to reject the new US run military bases in Colombia.
The march in support of Chavez in Caracas, Saturday (Arturo Alejandro/Aporrea)

Mérida, September
6th, 2009 ( – In response to a "global" protest promoted
over against Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, there were marches
and rallies across Venezuela and in various other countries on Friday and
Saturday to both support Chavez and to reject the new US run military bases in

report that around 50,000 Chavez supporters marched on Saturday in Caracas,
beginning at various points around the city and finishing outside the
Venezuelan Foreign Ministry.

Chavez spoke to
the protest by phone from Iran, where he was visiting as part of a week long
diplomatic tour. He said, "I congratulate everyone for continuing to defeat the
plot against this country and the revolution…from here, from far away, I send
you all my revolutionary heart and my promise that I won't rest [in the struggle]
for freedom and the country."

There was also
a large rally in Caracas on Friday in the main plaza, and smaller rallies in
the main plazas of the other states on both Friday and Saturday. In Merida, an
opposition leaning state, there were small concentrations on Friday and
Saturday, and no opposition protests.

International Rallies in Support of Chavez and Against
US Bases

Latin American
alternative TV station TeleSUR reported rallies in front of Venezuelan
embassies to protest the US bases in Colombia and in support of Chavez in over
50 countries of South America and Europe, including a "large demonstration" in
Ecuador, with speakers calling for the truth to be told about what is happening
in Latin America.

In Buenos Aires
on Friday there was a protest with the theme of ‘Colombian Yankee military
bases out'. Participants read out a statement titled, ‘With Chavez and against
the bases' and the Venezuelan ambassador in Argentina, Arvelo Mendez, spoke to
the crowd.

TeleSUR reports
that in Colombia students, intellectuals and university lecturers rallied in
the capital, Bogata, to reject the war policies and rights violations of their
government. In El Salvador marchers showed their solidarity with Chavez to the
"rhythm of drums".

In Madrid,
Spain there was a large participation in a conference against the bases and in
solidarity with Chavez, which was called by the Spanish Bolivarian Assembly. In
Holland, following a small rally, there was also a public meeting in the
Venezuelan embassy there, and Venezuelan legislator Edgar Lucena spoke, as well
as ambassadors from Bolivia, Cuba, and Nicaragua.

The Bolivarian
Committee in Switzerland called a meeting in Geneva, in which various left wing
party and movement representatives attended. The Venezuelan ambassador to the
country also spoke there.

Legislator to
the Venezuelan National Assembly, Augusto Montiel, reported that social and
political organisations in Belgium mobilised in support of Chavez and against
the bases. He also said that united European left parties and environment
parties expressed their support for Chavez in the European parliament.

Opposition protests in Venezuela

According to
news agency EFE and aerial footage, around 5,000 people marched in the
opposition protest in Caracas on Saturday, finishing outside the Attorney
General's office. The march was peaceful and there were no incidents.

spokespeople said they were asking for the "end of persecution against those
who think differently" and were rejecting the "threat against marching freely"
in reference to the comments by the attorney general that people who
disturb the peace "to destabilize the government, or attack the democratic
system," will be charged.

Two weeks ago
there were also pro- and anti-government protests in Caracas, in which the
opposition protest ended with some violence after the opposition broke through
police barriers in an effort to defer from their approved route.

International protests against Chavez

Organisers in
Colombia used social networking sites Facebook and Twitter to call "No more
Chavez" demonstrations for Friday 4 September. Organisers hoped for a large
global turn out, but only Venezuela, Colombia and Honduras had sizeable

CNN quoted
organisers saying the turnout was lower than expected. "We are not
interested in quantity but quality," Marcela Garzon told the El Heraldo
newspaper in Honduras, reported CNN.

However, many
major international media channels such as ABC and SBS in Australia only
covered the anti-Chavez protests, and other channels such as CNN and BBC
covered both anti and pro protests, but highlighted the anti-Chavez protests in
their headlines and content.

CNN reported,
"Critics of Hugo Chavez marched in cities across the globe Friday, calling the
Venezuelan president a dictator and violator of human rights." The US cable
news network said, "In Colombia… marchers in Bogota blew whistles and held up
signs saying ‘Get out of Colombia'" and explained that Colombians accuse Chavez
of supporting the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

The BBC estimated 5,000 participants in the Bogota protest in Colombia and
other agencies report another 3,500 protestors in Cali, Colombia.

There was a
sizeable march in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, lead by coup president Roberto
Micheletti and organised by the Civic Democratic Union. Protestors were dressed
in white and agencies report attendance of between 2-5,000 people to "reject
the interventionalism of Chavez". They also report that 200 people rallied in
New York City, outside the United Nations headquarters.

Other protests
were small or didn't happen. According to Venezuelan daily Diario Vea, in
Australia there were less than 20 people, in Madrid there were less than 100,
and Paris and Berlin also called protests but with no or little attendance.
TeleSUR reports that no one turned up to the advertised rally points in Sao Paulo,
Brazil, in Asuncion, Paraguay or in Montevideo, Uruguay and that 12 people
rallied in Brussels.

El Universal
(Mexico) reported that "dozens" protested against Chavez in Chile and EFE
reported around 100 in a protest in Panama. Nevertheless, Venezuelan daily El
Universal carried the headline that, "144 cities in the world shouted ‘No more

Gutierrez, one of the main organisers of the protests, told the press, "The
world is tired of the tyrannical attitudes of president Hugo Chavez, and his
intention to export his crazy revolution."

The Venezuelan
ambassador in Colombia, Gustavo Marquez, said the protests against the
Venezuelan government are part of a US lead strategy against the Latin American
region and its progressive governments.