The Streets of Caracas- Part I
Militants from political parties opposed to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez attempted to march into the building where Presidents from 15 developing countries are meeting as part of the G-15 Summit in Caracas. Two people were reported dead and more than 18 wounded.
The demonstration was organized by opponents of the President to pressure the National Electoral Council (CNE) to approve a recall referendum on the President. The opposition claimed that the goal was to deliver a document to the G-15 presidents urging them to put pressure on the CNE to approve the recall.
Up to six opposition sharpshooters were detected by authorities hiding in rooftops near the demonstrations, according to National Assembly deputy Francisco Solorzano.
Opposition militants wore professional gas masks, prompting pro-government political commentators to claim that the opposition’s actions were well planned and financed.
TV footage showed officers from the opposition-controlled Metropolitan Police, helping the demonstrators as they changed locations to clash with National Guard troops. Venezuelan Vice-President Jose Vicente Rangel said the government could take control of that police force for their anti-government actions.
"They weren’t holding rosaries and bibles, they came with a violent attitude, holding sticks, bottles and stones, to confront the National Guard, which had to respond with tear gas to control the situation and guarantee order," said Interior Minister Lucas Rincon holding a police helmet stained with blood, and penetrated by a bullet shot by opposition demonstrators. "It wasn't confetti what they threw at the troops," added Rincon.
Rincon, said there were five people detained with weapons without permits, and two police officers from opposition-controlled municipalities wearing body armor and holding weapons disguising in civilian clothes.
"The march achieved its goal," said the Coordinadora Democratica in a statement after the clashes.
These photos lead to a series of unanswered questions (although I have provided the answers since they are axiomatic kneejerk reflexes):
To the US State Department, do you think excessive force was used? Before you answer by automatic reflex, you should think about how it compares to the baseline of the Miami model. (Late breaking news: Even the Miami county commissioners were disgusted enough to want to repeal the police laws). YES.
Miami, Florida, USA, November 2003