As part of a campaign launched by Venezuela’s extreme right-wing opposition leaders, which they have called La Salida (The Ousting), groups of violent Venezuelan opposition thugs launched a wave of violent street disturbances in various parts of Venezuela on Wednesday 12 February. Tragically this has resulted in the death of at least two people with the authorities reporting that 23 people were also injured.
President Maduro has called the wave of opposition violence an attempt at a coup, after leading opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez (a campaign manager for Henrique Capriles in the recent Presidential election) and María Corina Machado (a close George W Bush ally and signatory of the 2002 coup deceleration in Venezuela) among others, called on people to take to the streets to force “the exit” of the government. (See a video of Maduro here in English)
After the killing of two people yesterday (one a pro-government community leader and friend of President Maduro and one an opposition supporter), President Maduro drew analogies with the sniper fire against crowds of both government and opposition supporters in 2002 which was used as a pretext to justify the coup against Chavez (See video here in English).
The right-wing opposition violence also targeted public buildings including the national office of the Public Prosecutor. In the wealthy district of Chacao the violence targeted the Court of Law building. Jesse Chacon, Minister for Electricity, denounced that Molotov cocktails were thrown at the electric substation plant in Tachira state. A few days before, thugs had surrounded the pro-government State Governor’s official residence in Tachira and attacked it with Molotov cocktails , bottles and stones.
La Salida (The Ousting) is the political strategy identified with extreme right elements of the Venezuelan opposition’s leaders. Its declared aim is to oust the democratically elected government of President Maduro well before he finishes his constitutional mandate in 2019. The violence unleashed on February 12 shows the means by which elements of the extreme right will try to achieve the illegal and unconstitutional objectives of La Salida.
During one of the marches on 12 February senior opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez said the wave of opposition violence will only ‘be over when we manage to remove those who govern us’ (You can see this in a video here ). Furthermore, he told Reuters that the protests seek “the resignation” of the President.
The violence is reminiscent of the tragic events leading to the wanton destruction and violence, including the death of 13 people, in the aftermath of Henrique Capriles’ call to opposition supporters on 14 April 2013 to ‘vent their fury’ by claiming falsely that the April 2013 presidential election, which he lost to Nicolas Maduro, had been fraudulent. (See video here)
There is no justification for violent opposition to the elected government in Venezuela, which has a free and fair democratic system that offers plenty of opportunities to express any opposition to the elected Maduro government. The opposition regularly participates in these elections – but nearly every time they do so they fail to secure a majority. Hence the most extreme right-wing sections are now seeking to use violence to make up for their electoral failings.
La Salida is being unleashed just as President Maduro has begun a highly productive dialogue with recently elected opposition mayors focused on bringing about stability in Venezuela, seeking to resolve differences through dialogue and negotiations, including in terms of collaboration to combat crime and economic speculation. Clearly extreme right wing elements within the opposition, and their external funders, see Maduro’s calls for collaboration in peace and harmony as a threat to their illegal, undemocratic and unconstitutional objectives.
- Condemn the violence unleashed by extreme right wing elements during opposition rallies and marches that led to the death of innocent people as a result of that violence, and condemn any undemocratic, illegal and unconstitutional actions against the democratically elected and constitutional government of President Maduro.
- Call for the immediate cessation of extreme right wing violence against the established and constitutional authorities of Venezuela, and urge everybody to heed President Maduro’s call for peace and dialogue in Venezuela.
- Express our unconditional support for President Maduro, his elected government and the constitutional principles enshrined in the democratically-endorsed constitution.
No to violence! No to coup-mongering in Venezuela! Yes to dialogue, peace and respecting the democratic will of the majority!