No to far-right violence and provocations in Venezuela!

Opposition protesters with slingshots during clashes on February 12. Photo by Angel de Jesús/AVN.

[For more detail, read Steve Ellner's "Venezuela: Right-wing provokes violence in time-worn practice". For more on Venezuela, click HERE.]

End the media war on the Bolivarian revolution!

Statement by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network

February 14, 2014 -- Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network condemns the recent violent actions instigated by far-right sections of the opposition in various cities across Venezuela.

The first opposition-led protests were initiated on February 4 in the city of San Cristóbal, in the western state of Tachira, when two students were arrested for alleged breach of the peace during a demonstration. The students were released the following day.

The following days were marked by an escalation of student protests in the states of Merida and Tachira, with small groups of masked and hooded individuals engaging in acts of violence throughout the capital cities, claiming they were fighting against “crime”. Their actions included, but were not limited to, blockading roads, throwing rocks at passers-by, attacking the residence of the Tachira state governor, terrorising passengers on public transport, throwing Molotov cocktails and firing live ammunition at the police, as well robbing and attempting to assassinate independent journalists who were covering and reporting on this issue from the Andean states.

February 12 was marked with opposition rallies throughout the country, which coincided with mass demonstrations by revolutionary youth celebrating the “Day of Youth” and the 200th anniversary of the battle of La Victoria during the Independence War.

An opposition rally in Caracas, reported by the opposition-aligned newspaper El Nacional as numbering only 1500, ended with a violent attack on the office of the attorney-general by a small group of masked men who used rocks and Molotov cocktails. Juan “Juancho” Montoya, a revolutionary and a community leader from Barrio 23 de Enero, as well as Basil De Costa, an opposition student, were fatally shot in the head, reminiscent of the sniper shootings that occurred on April 11, 2002.

Disturbances look set to continue in the next few days, as the government responds with detainment of the instigators of violence and further attempts by small groups to destabilise the government.

The main leaders and co-ordinators of these recent actions appear to be Villca Fernandez, the national coordinator of the far-right student movement, Liberation; Leopoldo Lopez, the leader of the far-right “Popular Will” party; and Maria Corina Machado, a deputy in the National Assembly who has been calling on the opposition supporters to “take to the streets” in an attempt to destabilise and eventually overthrow the democratically elected government of President Nicolas Maduro.

The international corporate media, in co-ordination with the vast private media in Venezuela, has continued to provide biased reporting on these events, with the protesters being portrayed as “peaceful demonstrators” against a “corrupt and violent repressive regime”. This tactic has been employed many times before in Venezuela. The most infamous incident was on April 11, 2002 when shootings by snipers on demonstrators justified the coup against former president Hugo Chavez. Chavista “hoards” were blamed for the violence at the time of the failed April 2002 coup attempt.

The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network calls upon all those internationally who value democracy, freedom, justice and peace to support the Bolivarian Revolution and the socialist government of Nicolas Maduro in this difficult time of attempted destabilisation and violence. It also rejects any attempts to incite hatred among the pro-government sections of the population and provoke a violent response to the right wing’s actions. It also calls on the Australian government to condemn the reactionary violence that has occurred in the last few weeks, just as the Ecuadorian government did on February 12.

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