Oh, ho hum…where have I heard this dreary refrain before?
Gunmen have opened fire on students returning from a protest in Caracas against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s planned reforms.
Several people have been reported injured during the clashes, including at least two by gunfire.
The students were protesting against plans to remove presidential term limits, the subject of a referendum.
Thousands had marched peacefully to the Supreme Court and filed a demand for the vote to be suspended.
Unidentified gunmen opened fire on the students as they returned from the march, prompting scenes of chaos as students fled.
One witness told the Reuters news agency that after the initial violence supporters of Mr Chavez drove through the area on motorbikes and shooting into the air.
National Guardsmen had been posted along the march route to stop clashes between protesters and Chavez supporters.
Okay, now who says history never repeats? Once again, this does not pass the most basic of sniff tests. Let’s tally up the similarities to the last time this happened, shall we?
Back in April of ’02, there was also a “peaceful opposition demonstration” that proved not to be anything of the sort. The “peaceful” demonstrators vandalized Fermin Toro High School, threw battery acid in the faces of Chavistas, fired upon their own marchers from within the march, pushed their way through a police roadblock designed to keep them from getting into fights with the other side, littered the streets of Caracas with burning trash, and in the midst of the confusion, snipers associated with the political parties they supported fired upon the “peaceful” demonstrators to create even more confusion. Then, as now, violence was being used to force a resignation from a certain unbelievably popular president.
Back in ’02, the “peaceful demonstration” was staged–and its march deliberately, illegally re-routed–to force an end to democracy in Venezuela when it resulted in something the Venezuelan oligarchy didn’t like. Since there was no way to peacefully, democratically dislodge a certain president from his seat, violence was used as a means to that end. Then as now, students from pricey, conservative private universities were in the vanguard of the marches.
Back in ’02, the violence was wrongly ascribed to Chavistas by the media. A video was made by a Venevision news crew that showed a half-dozen Chavistas firing from Llaguno Bridge, presumably at the opposition demonstrators on Baralt Avenue. This video didn’t show what they were firing at (it turned out to be the riot trucks of the Metropolitan Caracas Police, who had been set upon them by an anti-Chavez mayor.) It intercut scenes of the Llaguno shooters with commentary linking them to murder and mayhem several blocks away (some of it out of the shooters’ line of sight, and all of it out of their handguns’ range.) The shooters, who were taken prisoner and isolated from their families for months afterwards, all maintained their innocence. Home videos made by amateurs with a direct angle down Avenida Baralt later bore their assertions out, showing no march on the avenue, and nothing there but a police truck firing on the Chavistas massed on the bridge (in concert with snipers posted on rooftops nearby, thus proving that the police and the unseen shooters were in collusion against Chavez). Then, as now, the news media were complicit in the most blatant manipulation and distortion of the day’s events. Venevision’s unethical video was picked up and touted as definitive by media outlets from around the world.
Back in ’02, the violence came in the wake of a raft of laws passed by Chavez under the Ley Habilitante (Enabling Law)–a constitutional measure that allows the president to legislate by decree where necessary. The laws in question regulated land use, fishing and industry; they put more power in the hands of campesinos, small-scale fisherfolks, and workers. The oligarchy, represented by Pedro Carmona (the head of Fedecamaras, the Venezuelan chamber of commerce) didn’t like that one bit, and they bitterly complained about the 49 laws, claiming they were “destabilizing to the economy”. Then, as now, the violence came in reaction to Chavez’s use of the enabling law to decree serious structural reforms, and to address imbalances in the system. His recent raft of legislation was a group of constitutional reforms intended to put more power directly into the hands of the people, and out of the hands of the traditional powerholders.
As you can see, it’s all going over like a load of bricks.
Then, a business leader was installed as “interim president” during the coup. He “restored democracy” by dismantling every democratic institution in Venezuela–the national assembly, the electoral council, the Defender of the People (their national ombud, in other words.) The constitution, which a solid majority voted in favor of in a general referendum, was scrapped, as were the 49 popular “Habilitante” laws.
Now, we’re seeing 69 constitutional reforms, already passed by the National Assembly (which, I stress, is democratically elected) and slated to go to a popular referendum on December 2. The opposition is doing its damnedest to make sure that referendum doesn’t happen. In other words, they are interfering with democracy, hellbent on destroying it–AGAIN.
And the lazy-ass lamestream media up here still won’t call them on it. They still toady to antidemocratic “civil society” groups like Sumate, whose express purpose is to advance not democracy, but the oligarchy’s agenda, and who have received massive funding from the US State Department. They still give the fuck-ass official version, which is intentionally vague and misleading, and whose slant is obvious to anyone with a moderately trained eye. The slant: Chavez is antidemocratic, and these reforms are a power grab–and the violence against these peaceful demonstrators proves it!
It was crapaganda then, and it is still crapaganda now.