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Protests Against Violence in Venezuela

Today marks the third straight day that Venezuelans have taken to the streets to protest the murders of three, young Canadian-Venezuelan brothers and their chauffeur who were kidnapped on February 23rd and found dead in the town of Yare with gunshot wounds to the head this Tuesday. Opposition ghostblogger Jorge Arena explains:

The three Venezuelan-Canadian kids, ages 12, 13 and 17, were kidnapped with their driver when they were taken to school on February 23. According to witnesses, the car with the kids was stopped and then escorted by several police officers in motorcycle. The 13 year old was said to have a physical disability. A ransom of 4.5 million dollars was asked for the release of the kids. The Government of Canada had contacted and pressured the Venezuelan government about the case, but said that had received minimal information.

Alluding to Vice President José Vicente Rangel’s comments that the popular film “Secuestro Express,” misrepresents Caracas, Arena adds:

This is not a film to “falsify the truth” Mr. Vice President, these horrible kidnapping and killings are for real. This is the true state of affairs in Venezuela, where there is no personal safety and where the justice and police system seem to be in place just to persecute the government political opponents, but not to protect its citizens.

The typically pro-government blog Oil Wars admits that “crime is definitely the one great issue that the current government has been unable to deal with in any meaningful way.” But also pointed out is the fact that the majority of Venezuelan violent crime takes place in poor neighborhoods where it does not receive the same media attention as the wealthy Faddoul brothers.

Jorge Arena also notes, like many bloggers, that:

This crime reminds me of last week abduction and immediate killing of Venezuelan-Italian businessman Filippo Sindoni, the successful owner of a pasta empire, a TV station and a newspaper. In this case, the car carrying Sindoni was also stopped by what looked like Police officers.

Sadly, the fomenting violence doesn't stop there. Luis Carlos wrote yesterday in Periodismo de Paz (Journalism of Peace) of the murder of photographer Jorge Aguirre (ES) who was covering the anti-violence protests:

“Párese, soy la autoridad.” Así le dijeron al fotógrafo de la Cadena Capriles y su chofer esta tarde en la protesta ocurrida en los alrededores de la UCV. Está como posdata en el artículo anterior. ‘La autoridad’ era un motorizado sin identificación, estaba en una moto sin placas y armado. Abrió fuego contra el fotógrafo Jorge Aguirre cuando éste tenía la cámara en ristre, preparada para hacer su trabajo. Un tiro lo alcanzó en el pecho y acabó con su vida hace dos o tres horas. Mañana el diario Últimas Noticias publicará en primera plana la última fotografía de este reportero gráfico.

“Stop, I'm with the authorities.” That is what they told the photographer of Cadena Capriles and his driver this afternoon in the protest that took place in the outskirts of the University of Caracas. Just like the previous post [referring to the murders of the Faddoul brothers and Sindoni], “the authority figure” was an armed motorcyclist without identification riding a motorcycle without plates. He opened fire on the photographer Jorge Aguirre who had his camera positioned, preparing to do his job. One shot hit his chest and ended his life two or three hours ago. Tomorrow, the newspaper Últimas Noticias will publish the last photo of this photojournalist on its front page.

Reacting to Luis Carlos’ post, Silmariat comments, “what are we turning into?”

Afrael adds in a post with Aguirre's last photograph:

Cosa curiosa que no he visto esto señalado por la blogocosa venezolana, si se ha hablado de la muerte del fotógrafo del El Mundo, Jorge Aguirre, pero el fotógrafo, poco antes de morir tomó su cámara y disparó, y logro captar una foto de su asesino, se ve alguien en una moto y un grupo de personas señalando en esa dirección. Valiente acción del reportero tener y de alguna forma u otra fue su manera de tomar venganza y dispararle a su agresor.

It's curious that I haven't seen this around the Venezuelan blogosphere. Yes, the death of the El Mundo photographer, Jorge Aguirre has been talked about, but before dying, he took his camera and shot, and was able to get a photo of his assassin. You can see someone on a motorcycle and a group of people pointing in that direction. A brave action by the reporter, and in one way or another, it was his way of taking vengeance and shooting at his agressor.

A.M. Mora y Leon of the anti-Chavez blog Publius Pundit believes that the violence serves President Chavez a purpose. Dubbing Chavez, “A modern dictator” Mora y Leon argues that “he has no need for archaic devices like secret police to come knocking on doors of dissidents to terrify them, as happened in the Stalinistic and Castroite days of old. It may come later, but right now, he’s got a more efficient means of controlling the population through terror by allowing for runaway crime across the country.”

Guillermo Parra of Venepoetics has translated an opinion piece by Oswaldo Barreto from TalCual, which cites a UNESCO study of 57 nations that “places Venezuela and Brazil as the countries that have the highest number of dead people due to firearms, with 22.15 and 21.72 respectively for every 100,000 inhabitants.”

Kareta hopes that the spirit behind the protests won't be forgotten:

El problema es que la memoria de nosotros los venezolanos es muy frágil. OLVIDAMOS TODO, los muertos de las marchas, los baleados , los muertos en protestas, los desaparecidos por los gobiernos, los actos de corrupción, los secuestros, la impunidad… Puedo hacer una lista pero seguro olvido muchas cosas.

The problem with our Venezuelan memory is that it is very fragile. We forget everything, the dead victims of the marches, the disappeared by the governments, the acts of corruption, the kidnappings, the impunity … I can make a long list, but surely, I'll forget many things …

In hope of resisting the amnesia, she has created a blog badge saying “I don't forget!” that has gotten a lot of link-love from other Venezuelan bloggers.

But Lubrio of El espacio de Lubrio claims that the opposition-dominated media is politicizing the crimes in an effort to unseat Chavez (ES) similar to the coup of April, 2002.

En la noche de miércoles para jueves, en un largo pero interesantísimo programa, Mario Silva dictó una clase realmente magistral de cómo los medios de comunicación privados prepararon y estimularon las protestas ocurridas este miércoles en Caracas, que terminaron en guarimbas y prometen extenderse este jueves.

Wednesday night, in a long but very interesting program, Mario Silva gave a really masterful class on how the media of private companies prepared and stimulated the protests which occurred this Wednesday in Caracas, ended in opposition marches and is promised to be extended into Thursday.

Lamento muchísimo lo de los hermanitos Faddoul, su chofer y lo del reportero gráfico Jorge Aguirre, asesinado hoy en circunstancias muy extrañas mientras fotografiaba una de estas guarimbas (por cierto, Aguirre pertenecía a la organización “Periodistas por la Verdad”, que apoya al proceso bolivariano). Pero la oposición se está valiendo de estas lamentables muertes para sacar a su gente a las calles y revivir las guarimbas de febrero y marzo de 2004.

I absolutely lament what happened to the Faddoul brothers, their driver, and what happened to the photojournalist Jorge Aguirre, assassinated today in very strange circumstances while he photographed one of these opposition protests (as a matter of fact, Aguirre belonged to the organization “Journalists for the Truth,” which supports the Bolivarian process). But the opposition is taking advantage of these unfortunate deaths to bring its people out onto the streets and relive the opposition protests of February and March, 2004. [sic, should be 2002].

Lubrio also has a post titled “The Dark Side of the Protest for the Victims in these Days” with three videos that he claims:

muestran cómo diversas protestas legítimas expresando el dolor por la muerte de los hermanos Faddoul, el chofer Miguel Rivas y el fotógrafo Jorge Aguirre, fueron infiltrada por guarimberos y personas que buscaban crear un ambiente de violencia en el país, convirtiéndolas en vulgares protestas políticas opositoras.

show how diverse, legitimate protests expressing the pain felt for the Faddoul brothers, the driver Miguel Rivas, and the photographer Jorge Aguirre, were infiltrated by opposition protesters and people that were seeking to create an ambience of violence in the country, turning them into vulgar opposition political protests.

After noting that Chavez was nowhere to be seen immediately following the discovery of the Faddoul brothers, Jorge Arena says that the president is blaming the media so as not to take responsibility for the out-of-control violence.

Chavez said that his government will not rest until they find those guilty and mentioned that there are those that are taking advantage of the situation to destabilize his government. Of course we still do not know what he was doing from the moment the kids’ bodies were found until now. But we know that his government has been busy trying to find some ways to put the blame of the righteous rage that people were having due to the insecurity level of Venezuela's streets on the private media. As usual, Globovision was a favorite target.

Alex Lanz writes passionately in a post titled “We're a Bunch of Hypocrites.” After what he considers an “overdose” of the media circus, which has surrounded the death of the Faddoul brothers and the protests that followed, Lanz posts excerpts of an email he received.

“Antes que nada quiero preguntar ¿por que no cierran calles y saturan los medios cuando matan a un niño en un barrio, en el campo o en una zona indígena? ¿O es que esos no duelen? Sepamos diferenciar entre la solidaridad de algunos grupos con una familia desdichada y una excusa para volver a patear la mesa democrática.

El dolor que esta familia siente hoy en día poco de nosotros la podemos siquiera tratar de describir. Nada justifica un hecho tan despreciable, pero ¿por qué nos enteramos tan eficientemente de las características de este hecho y se nos trasmite todos estos sentimientos y no se hace lo mismo con otros crímenes igual de horrorosos pero en familias de estratos más bajos?

Before anything else, I want to ask, why don't we close the streets and flood the media when they kill a child in a poor neighborhood, in the country, or in an indigenous area? Or do these not hurt? We know how to distinguish between the solidarity of some groups with an unfortunate family and an excuse to return to petty politics.

The pain that this family feels today is something that few of us could ever try to describe. Nothing justifies an act so despicable, but why don't we inform ourselves so efficiently of the details of this act and transmit all of our feelings when other crimes, just as horrendous, happen to lower-class families?

¿El dolor es mas fuerte mientras aumentas en clase social? ¿La muerte de un empresario es más dolorosa que la de todos los taxistas que han muerto en el último año? ¿Es proporcional las protestas que hoy en día aparecen en nuestra ciudad por dicho crimen? y si es así ¿de verdad son espontáneas? Analicemos nuestros sentimientos y separemos cuales son auténticos y cuales se nos son infundidos de manera mediática.

Mi opinión es que todo ser humano sin distinción tiene derecho a la vida, si así lo desea conscientemente, y debemos defender este derecho día a día con nuestras ideas y acciones y no reactivamente ante un hecho en particular.

Is the pain stronger when you're raised in the upper-class? Is the death of a businessman more painful than all the taxi-drivers that have died in the last year? Are today's protests that appeared in our city for the said crime proportional? And if so, were they really spontaneous? We must analyze our feelings and separate those which are authentic with those which are instilled by media.

My opinion is that every human being, without distinction, has the right to life. If that's what you conscientiously wish for, we must defend this right day to day with our ideas and actions and not as reactionists to one event in particular.

Luis Carlos, however, views the protests as much more spontaneous and genuine. Rather than being stirred up by the opposition media, Carlos says the mobilization of outraged citizens using the internet as a new platform marks an era of “Protest 2.0.”

Muchísimas gracias a todas las personas que participaron en esta página desde el martes en la noche, ustedes han sido parte, al igual que toda la blogosfera, del fenómeno blog infociudadano del que hablé en marzo. Fue efervescente, sí. Se dispararon las alertas. Sí. ¿Y qué pasará mañana? Podemos predecir que todo seguirá igual, pero será injusto con tanta gente que se ha movió y dijo y habló y se arrechó de forma sincera ayer y hoy en este país. Soy incapaz de despreciar a alguien que haya actuado con dolor sincero. Me párece grosero llamarlos “manipulados por los medios” o como decía un ultroso: “el miedo de los burgueses”. Nada de eso.

Many thanks to all of the people who participated on this page since Tuesday night. You have been part – along with all of the blogosphere – of the “infocitizenry” blog phenomenon that I spoke about in March (ES). It was effervescent, yes. And what will happen tomorrow? We can predict that all will stay the same, but that would be unjust with how many people have engaged, who talked, spoke, and rose up sincerely yesterday and today in this country. I'm incapable of despising someone who has acted out of real pain. It seems vulgar to me to call them “manipulated by the media” or as one offensive person said: “the fear of the bourgeoisie.” It was none of this.

Luis Carlos goes on to explain that more than 300 journalists also marched through the streets of Caracas while onlookers yelled at them, “enter the ghettoes as well!” He admits that Venezuelan journalism – both private and state-run – needs to continue reforming and improving, and that a new citizen journalism is forcing both to do exactly that. “Among so much Emocracy my admiration is towards you,” the professor emphasizes.

3 comments

  • […] Edit klo 17.55: Lis

  • This is all happening because we have a murderous gangster in Miraflores. The violence in Venezuela will only get worse as long as this fascist Chavista government remains in power.

    After 7 years of record-breaking oil prices and they still can’t come up with a serious plan to combat the plague of violent crime afflicting Venezuela. Chavismo itself is a veritable plague that is destroying Venezuela.

  • Oh, thank you.
    Let save this page.
    I’m wrinting about the venezuelan’s blogs outside our lines.

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