There were protests at local universities this morning. At Universidad Metropplitana the police gassed the students. At Universidad central de Venezuela the students tried to hold a rally at Plaza Venezuela but the police tried to block them from going outside the campus. This incensed the students who then simply left the University and began wondering around the city. I joined them near Chacao where I took the pictures above, where the students were waiting for those from Simon Bolivar University and Universidad Metropolitana. However, the students from Simon Bolivar were stopped in La Trinidad. Amazingly enough little of this is being shwon by TV or the press and some websites seem to be down again.
Separately the Minister of Communications William Lara, who is also the official spokesman for Chavez’ political party, made a formal penal accusation against CNN, Globovision and VenezuelaDigital. I did not understand well the charge, but he said that they were inciting for the killing of Hugo Chavez and using his image the wrong way. From what I understood is that they are accusing the three of being part of a conspiracy. CNN for showing a picture of a dead A-Qaeda leader at the same time they showed a picture of Chavez, Globovision for showing a clip of when the Pope had an attempt on his life a the website for running a poll with a question on whether Chavez should be killed. Once again, it was very difficult to understand the charges. Is this the beginning of the end for globovision?
Updates at 3:40 PM Caracas Time: Police started gassing students from Simon Bolivar University as they tried to leave for the Chacaito rally. Meanwhile in Chacaito, the police started gassing the students for unknown reasons, given that it is a closed square with no traffic circulation. But the police came from one side gassing the demonstrators. They dispersed and now have regrouped. Essentially when the cops came the students sat down and the cops retreated. The polices says that the students went to an area that they were not allowed (??) and they will not permit it. They crowd is thinner but the students say they are waiting for others from various universities.
Update at 4:47 PM: The police now attacked the students with the “whale” and tear gas. The “whale” is a water tank. It is unclear why they decided to do this, since the rally is in Plaza Brion of Chacaito, which is a pedestrian walkway. The Minister of Interior and Justice is saying that these are “coupsters” trying to use the unions and students to destabilize and the US Government is behind the whole thing. Government TV only showing when Mayor Leopoldo Lopez said the demonstration had to peaceful and saying this is another opposition rally disguised as a student demonstration.
Update at 5:50 PM: Now the students are actually occupying the streets and the cops are doing nothing about it. Go Figure. Supposedly, the cops were sent to Conatel, the telecom regulator where the protests took place yesterday. Dificult to understand why they attacked an hour ago, when the students were only in the pedestrian area and now they are allowed to go and obstruct the streets.
Update at 6:20 PM: A torrential rain poured on the demonstrators and the crowd dispersed. Then all of sudden there is a shooting going on, and I mean tear gas and bullets this time. Nobody understands what is going on, as there seems to be more police that demonstrators left due to the rain. Reporter saying that some students starting throwing stones at the police and that is why the police began using plastics bullets in Chacao. There are four injured at the University of Carabobo and three at Universidad Metropolitana.