A puzzling crime, some intriguing leads, and some usual suspicions

It’s sad that the head of the parliament has to utter such warnings in advance. But it’s also a sign of the polarization that’s going on down in Venezuela.

However, this execution-style murder is a sign of other things, too…and there are other intriguing signs associated with it, such as this:

Last July, a notoriously violent opposition student group known as the March 13th Movement shot guns and threw Molotov cocktails at police officers and ransacked sections of the Andean city of Mérida, where the University of the Andes (ULA) is located, to protest insecurity. A student was killed and dozens of police officers were injured.

The violence was reminiscent of past destabilization campaigns by opposition students in the run-up to both university and national elections.

Thursday morning, students blocked a major avenue outside the ULA campus by burning tires and painted the message “No More Death” across the street.

I blogged on that event, too, shortly after it happened, noting that the dead student had not been shot from many metres in front, where the Mérida police were, but from behind and at point-blank range. The only people behind him were his fellow M-13ers. And guess who was quick off the mark to capitalize on that, too?

Another detail from the snippet above, which should not be lost on anyone who’s following these events: the burning tires used as a roadblock. Why would anyone protest a violent death using such a confrontational, disruptive method? Where I come from, we consider candlelight vigils and marches to be sufficient. Is this some standard Venezuelan thing?

No, it’s not. At least, not for anybody outside the opposition. The Chavistas aren’t in the habit of burning tires everytime someone gets killed, just as they aren’t in the habit of howling for the president’s head to roll. This is what Cilia Flores was warning about: the tendency of the opposition to quickly capitalize on it everytime there’s a murder, especially one of their own. Unfortunately, it’s a well-known pattern, and it shouldn’t just be socialists like me making note of it.

By the way, there’s another interesting thing concerning burning-tire roadblocks, and here it is, as reported by VTV’s Dando y Dando:

A truck loaded with tires was seen heading for the Central University of Venezuela, UCV, in Caracas, on Wednesday afternoon, and photographed by a passerby. That’s the day Soto was murdered.

It seems strange that a truckload of tires just happened to be dropped off there, then, for no apparent reason. How many cars on campus needed new tires? Did the university buses just all happen to be in need of a mass tire change? According to the Aporrea report on this strange event, this is not standard practice at UCV. There are suspicions that the tires were/are meant for use in a guarimba.

Frankly, knowing what I do about the opposition and its patterns, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if this suspicion proved true. Remember, there are regional elections coming up, and they are widely expected to be a Chavista sweep. There is no reason the PSUV or anyone connected to it would use violence to intimidate the opposition when the opposition is so small, pitiful and discredited. But I wouldn’t put it past the oppos to use this death to gain sympathy points via a martyr. It’s not as if they hadn’t done it before.

I also wouldn’t put it past them to use violence in an effort to unseat Chavecito; remember, there have been numerous bits of evidence of yet another coup plot against him. I’ve blogged about several of them here. The Big Guy himself isn’t shy about reminding people that nothing must be taken for granted as the election campaign gathers momentum. But that warning should not be interpreted as a threat of violence against the opposition. One thing that’s been consistently remarkable in all this is how much restraint he’s shown regarding those guys; his quickness to order a federal investigation into this death speaks well for him. It’s also, well, so like him–nothing to hide, therefore nothing to fear. Would a president who orders political “hits”, or at least condones them if they come from “his” side, do that? I doubt it very much; refer to the actions of the Chilean military junta after the coup of September, 1973 for examples of how a really repressive regime behaves.

BTW, there’s now a line of inquiry by the CICPC (the Venezuelan equivalent of the FBI) into the possibility that Soto had links to a mafia dealing in tickets on student transportation (he is known to have managed and administered the sale of them), and there are allegations by his associates that he had been receiving death threats for about a week.

This may not be a strictly political murder after all; but still, it doesn’t explain the sudden, mysterious appearance of that truck full of tires at UCV, right on the day Julio Soto was killed. This smells suspiciously to me, and not just of burning rubber.

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2 Responses to A puzzling crime, some intriguing leads, and some usual suspicions

  1. Slave Revolt says:

    What is certain is that the US empire aligned rightwing, all over the world, are masters at black-operations.
    In their lust for power and maintaining illegitimate hierarchies of oppressive power the lives the ‘little people–manipulated followers or not–mean nothing to them.
    Look no further than Iraq or Afganistan if anyone has any doubt about this.
    Further, I have no doubt that the US CIA is still in Venezuela establishing links and plotting future destablization. Hey, it’s what these guys do, their reason for existing. Keeping the world safe for plutocratic, comprador-whore rule.

  2. Yep, no doubt about it. Whenever a “democratic opposition” group springs up like a mushroom, with no apparent local source of funding at all, you can be sure it’s sniffy.
    And even if it has SOME local funding, watch out–if it’s the chamber of commerce fronting most of the money, you know who’s got a hand up their backs.

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