(Este post en español aquí)
It was in the end an ugly day. Not that it had to be like that, but it was. For me it was like watching a movie knowing how it would end, but I enjoyed the middle. It was not intuition, it was knowing that if the Government had set up the barricades that early in the morning and was manning them with all forces, it was because they intended to use tear gas no matter what.
So, I took my gas mask, which I don’t always do and even as I could not find it initially, made a point of looking for it and taking it along. Fortunately, I did not have to use it, as I had moved back a little when they began using the tear gas.
And they did, it was premeditated evil, it was fascism as everyone saw in the end. This Government has and gives no thoughts to human rights. Those that do not agree with it are the enemy and they are and will be treated as such. They deserve no consideration, whether young or old, male or female. It’s hate, it’s discrimination, it’s fanaticism at its worst, all for a worthless cause.
But we have to deal with and fight it. And we did and were successful. We showed our ability to have thousands show up even as the city is empty due to school vacation.
But going back to the beginning, our rights were not respected from the first moment. Despite the opposition requesting a permit to march first, a second request by Chavez’ PSUV to march on the same day was given priority and we were not allowed to march towards the National Assembly. That was the protest, to tell the Assembly that we would not put up with the illegal and unilateral approval of that education Bill. Instead, the Minister of the Interior and Justice, a man with a criminal record for acts during protests, approved the Chavista march near the Congress building, but we were only allowed to march to the end of Avenida Libertador.
It was the typical disorganized opposition march, concentrate at 9 AM (it seems it is being called earlier and earlier) and wait until there is a critical mass. It is as if people watch TV and when they see it growing they run for it, because all of a sudden it got really crowded and not even my tweets could get out through the congested network.
For perspective here is a picture from the back of the march in Avenuda Liberatdor. For those that don’t know it, it is a two level highway with two lanes on the upper side on each side and four underneath. For security reasons we are not allowed to march thru the underpass part which is what you see emptying the middle. But you can see the people flowing on all sides. When this picture was taken, there were people all the way down to the CANTV building where the National Guard and cops had set up the barricade early in the morning underneath the CANTV sign you see at the end.
The march was quite cheerful, may old people, many students, political parties brought their contingents, but so you can see the atmosphere, the picture below was taken as we moved into Avenida Libertador. Clearly, this man had zero expectations of trouble and the cheerfulness and spirit of the march gave him no inkling of what was to come.
And they were reminders every corner when we saw the cops
And it got very crowded as we got to the overpass before CANTV as seen in the picture below:
And then, as it began to sprinkle, the cops on the other side of the barricade began throwing rubber bullets and tear gas at the crowd. Globovision showed a video that I can’t find on the Internet but I am sure we will soon, where you can clearly see who shot first (You can see the video in this article and a similar one from VTV, the Government’s TV station from up close here, showing the same thing and this amateur video showing it very clear). And it was totally irresponsible to shoot straight into a crowd a couple of miles deep and dense and full of older people. You can see it here (not my picture)
and you can see the brutal attack of the police by this violent woman:
Even worse, later the cops went deep into where the crowd was, the area for which a permit had been granted and they threw so many tear gas canisters, that some of them went down into the subway system, where people were trapped and gassed and people of all ages fainted due to the irresponsible actions fo the police and the National Guard. This picture taken from this page, shows what was happening underneath, as the Comander of the National Guard gave his by now infamous political speech, full of hate, discrimination and fascism, besides the fact that his behavior was illegal according to the National Guard code of behavior.
and above ground this threatening opposition people were being gassed (picture by gbastidas):
But, of course, it was all the oppositions fault, the leaders of it caused it and the Minister of the Interior asked for an investigation and the ineffable General Prosecutor already opened an investigation, which apparently reached a conclusion, since she says the Government will not allow “alterations of public order” as if she has decided who was guilty in generating today’s violence. Did she see the video of the National Guard Commander? That alone should have given her the prudence of not saying anything.
But all we did today was march cheerfully and happily in defense of our rights, only to find ourselves staring right into the eyes of the open fascism of the Chavez administration.