Units of the Venezuelan Army have now taken over all command centers of the Metropolitan police. Civilians are surrounding the army units and pot-banging and protesting agasint them. This is absolutely illegal and in some sense it is equivalent to a coup or state of emergency. Things are very tense.
Archive for November 15th, 2002
Cofavic, the best regarded human rights organization in Venezuela condenmed the intervention of the Metropolitan police today. Cofavic says the measure violates the autonomous nature of municipalities in our Constitution, that it increases teh militarization of Venezuela and that it interferes with the diualogue process taking place in Caracas. I wonder what the Human Rights Watch (HRW) people are thinking? How to condemn Cofavic? How to praise Chavez? How to accuse the opposition?Of what? They will find something, I am sure……
In a turn that could be part of a keystone cops movies, the Head of the Metropolitan police named by the Government today to intervene the force, said he made a mistake and recognized Henry Vivas as the true leader of the police. Amidst hugs, cheers and even tears, Vivas and Delgado hugged on national TV and said the police should not be divided by politics. Another day of magic realism in Venezuela.
To further complicate matters with the intervention of the Metropolitan police, neither the Governors of Miranda State or the Mayors of three of the largest municipalities of the city are recognizing the new Head of the Metropolitan police. Moreover, the Head of the police Henry Vivas says he has not been removed by the Mayor so he continues to be in charge. I also saw on TV other police officials saying they only recognize Vivas. Opposition groups are meeting at this time to consider their response to the Government’s action.
The Chavez administration has decreed the intervention of the Caracas Metropolitan police. The police is part of the office of the Metropolitan Mayor. Some police officers had been on strike for over a month to protest salary and working conditions, which the Mayor had said was politically motivated. On Tuesday protesting officers took over City Hall temporarily kidnapping the Mayor. Shots were fired and two peopel died and as mant as 23 were injured by gunshots. While the Government blamed the police for the violence, videos show that the shots were fired by protesters. The Government gave no justification for the intervention and place the National Guard in charge of the police. The Mayor of Caracas said he will seek an injunction today as the Government does not have the power to do what it did. For the opposition, this represents a severe blow as it has been the metropolitan police that has defended opposition marches from the agression of Chavez’ Bolivarian circles. The action may simply end the dialogue being promoted by Cesar Gaviria between the Goverment and the opposition and will make people wonder if it is a prelude to taking over Altamira Square where dissenting military officers continue their protest. The action also makes you wonder whether Chavez simply wants to provoke a coup at this time, given that he does not want to participate in any form of election.