By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS -- the Bolivarian National Police are trying to arrest a demonstrator who went inside a shopping mall in Maracay. Shoppers and onlookers begin cheering for the young man and jeering at the cops. Push comes to shove as the Police are physically confronted in a video now gone viral. The would-be prisoner manages to escape.
This is Venezuela, twenty four hours after the opposition disavowed the government of Nicolas Maduro, and the powers it controls (such as the Supreme Court and the CNE electoral board) and life goes on as usual (for Venezuela) on any given Wednesday since an acute Constitutional crisis broke out in late March.
Adding to the disaster, the tail-end of Tropical Storm Bret is still causing flashfloods and landslides, with at least one fatality, according to “Proteccion Civil”, Venezuela’s main emergency-response agency. It is the second Tropical Storm Bret to have an impact on Venezuela -- the first Tropical Storm Bret being in 1993 and causing over 200 deaths and tens of millions of dollars in damage.
And food is still scarce. People had to make a long line in the rain (and later, the blazing tropical sun) for one kilo of price-controlled corn flour at the Excelsior-Gama supermarket near Petare, one of the world’s largest and most dangerous slums in Eastern Caracas.THE NEW NORMAL
Opposition militants and sympathizers were demonstrating against Maduro all over Venezuela, from Merida to Ciudad Bolivar, but, as of this writing, no casualties had been reported.
A large demonstration was scheduled for Wednesday night, a tribute to the last demonstrator killed, Fabian Urbina, shot in the chest by National Guard in Altamira during an anti-Maduro protest Monday afternoon. But that’s the new normal: Venezuelans have learned to live with a level of disruption (the world’s highest inflation rate, the highest murder rate, out of control street crime, political violence and disastrous shortages of food and medicine) that is only heard of in countries like Syria.
The MUD roundtable of political opposition parties said Tuesday night it was invoking Article 350 of the 1999 Constitution, and was not recognizing Nicolas Maduro as President, but so far there has not been a flare up in political violence. Still, it should be remembered that, even on a normal day, Venezuela has one of the highest murder rates in the planet, and now more political prisoners than Cuba.
Raids were being conducted Wednesday by National Guard and Police in Merida, the main city in the Venezuelan Andes, looking for demonstrators, with several arrests, reported national newspaper El Nacional.
Venezuela is still reeling from 82 days of protest which have resulted in 94 fatalities and some 3,000 demonstrators arrested, according to local social-conflict NGO “Observatorio Venezolano de Conflictividad Social”. Several protesters have been labeled “terrorists”, tried in military courts and sent to “El Dorado” a mighty penal colony near the Amazonian jungle that is anything but paved with gold.