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Cuba prepares for Venezuela energy disruptions | StratRisks

Cuba prepares for Venezuela energy disruptions | StratRisks.

Source: Miami Herald
Cuba prepares for Venezuela disruptions

As political violence in Venezuela rolls on, Cubans say they are hearing reports that Havana is making energy or military preparations for a possible disruption of its tight alliance with the South American nation.

Cuba’s stagnant economy depends overwhelmingly on Venezuelan subsidies estimated at well over $6 billion a year — even more than the former Soviet Union once provided to the Caribbean island.

“If something ugly happens in Venezuela, we are fried like in the Special Period,” said Havana teacher Yadiel Ramirez.

The end of Soviet subsidies in 1991 plunged Cuba into a brutal crisis, shrinking the economy by 33 percent and sparking widespread hunger.

Former top Cuban government economist Jesús “Marzo” Fernandez said close Cuban friends working in Venezuela for that country’s state-owned PDVSA oil company have told him Havana has prepared for a sudden stop in Venezuelan oil imports.

The friends said all oil storage facilities on the island, including those set aside for military, government and strategic reserves, were full to the top as of March 4, Fernandez said. Caracas sends Cuba abour 115,000 barrels per day, two-thirds of its consumption.

“They are preparing? No. They are prepared,” added Fernandez, who now lives in Miami. “They won’t be surprised. The Cubans work with a long-distance view.”

Most analysts remain skeptical of claims by the Venezuelan opposition of Cuban troops arriving in the country in recent weeks to defend President Nicolas Maduro and quell the anti-government protests that have left 25 dead and more than 300 injured.

Opposition activists have published long-distance photos of unidentified soldiers landing in a military airport, and reports of people with Cuban accents beating up anti-Maduro protesters.

Read More @ Source

Cuba prepares for Venezuela energy disruptions | StratRisks

Cuba prepares for Venezuela energy disruptions | StratRisks.

Source: Miami Herald
Cuba prepares for Venezuela disruptions

As political violence in Venezuela rolls on, Cubans say they are hearing reports that Havana is making energy or military preparations for a possible disruption of its tight alliance with the South American nation.

Cuba’s stagnant economy depends overwhelmingly on Venezuelan subsidies estimated at well over $6 billion a year — even more than the former Soviet Union once provided to the Caribbean island.

“If something ugly happens in Venezuela, we are fried like in the Special Period,” said Havana teacher Yadiel Ramirez.

The end of Soviet subsidies in 1991 plunged Cuba into a brutal crisis, shrinking the economy by 33 percent and sparking widespread hunger.

Former top Cuban government economist Jesús “Marzo” Fernandez said close Cuban friends working in Venezuela for that country’s state-owned PDVSA oil company have told him Havana has prepared for a sudden stop in Venezuelan oil imports.

The friends said all oil storage facilities on the island, including those set aside for military, government and strategic reserves, were full to the top as of March 4, Fernandez said. Caracas sends Cuba abour 115,000 barrels per day, two-thirds of its consumption.

“They are preparing? No. They are prepared,” added Fernandez, who now lives in Miami. “They won’t be surprised. The Cubans work with a long-distance view.”

Most analysts remain skeptical of claims by the Venezuelan opposition of Cuban troops arriving in the country in recent weeks to defend President Nicolas Maduro and quell the anti-government protests that have left 25 dead and more than 300 injured.

Opposition activists have published long-distance photos of unidentified soldiers landing in a military airport, and reports of people with Cuban accents beating up anti-Maduro protesters.

Read More @ Source

Maduro Warns Venezuelan Protesters “We Are Coming For You”; Calls John Kerry A “Murderer” | Zero Hedge

Maduro Warns Venezuelan Protesters “We Are Coming For You”; Calls John Kerry A “Murderer” | Zero Hedge.

As the daily street protests grow bloodier and bloodier, Venezuelan President Maduro has escalated his comments today, exclaiming that he “won’t be bullied,” and warning “prepare yourself, we are coming for you,” if protesters don’t “go home within hours.”

  • *VENEZUELAN PROTESTERS HAVE ‘HOURS’ TO CLEAR BARRICADES: MADURO
  • *MADURO SAYS HE’LL SEND ARMED FORCES TO ‘LIBERATE’ PROTEST AREAS

With 28 dead in the last month of protests, things are very serious but as we warned previously, Maduro still enjoying the support of the poor – as EuroNews reports, it appears he is not going anywhere soonJohn Kerry also came under fire as the foreign minister called him “a “murderer of the Venezuelan people,” accusing him of encouraging the protests.

As Bloomberg reports,

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro says he will send armed forces to clear barricaded areas if “protesters don’t go home within hours.”

“Prepare yourself, we are coming for you,” Maduro tells soldiers at army event in Caracas

Plaza Altamira in eastern Caracas, the center of the protests, first to be “liberated,” Maduro says

As tensions with the US continue to rise:

The United States on Friday brushed aside “absurd” accusations by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro that it was meddling in the country’s internal affairs by intervening in anti-government protests.

Venezuela’s foreign minister Elias Jaua had earlier called top US diplomat John Kerry a “murderer of the Venezuelan people,” accusing him of encouraging the protests that have killed 28 people in five weeks.

“The solution to Venezuela’s problems lies in democratic dialogue among Venezuelans, not in repression or in hurling verbal brickbats at the United States,” a state department official said on condition of anonymity.

“Venezuela’s government needs to focus on solving its growing economic and social problems, not on making absurd allegations against the United States.”

Maduro, however, charged that “the desperate government interventionism of the United States is clear.”

“There’s a slew of statements, threats of sanctions, threats of intervention. There has been lobbying by the highest officials in the US government,” he said.

As Stratfor notesthese protests could mark a turning point as the economic situation deteriorates there is a chance that protests like this could begin to generate additional social momentum in rejection of the status quoPerhaps things could be changing for Maduro…

Relatively large student-led opposition protests convened in Caracas, Valencia, Maracaibo and many other cities throughout the country. Rough Stratfor estimates put the crowd in Caracas at between 15,000-20,000 people based on aerial photos posted on social media. Venezuela’s students are very politically active and protests are frequent. However, the relatively large turnout and widespread geographic distribution of this week’s protests indicate that the movement may be gaining traction.

The challenge that the student movement will face is in finding a way to include Venezuela’s laboring class, which for the most part still supports the government, and relies on its redistributive policies. Their inability to rouse broad support across Venezuela’s social and economic classes was in part why previous student uprisings, including significant protests in 2007, failed to generate enough momentum to trigger a significant political shift.

But the situation has changed in Venezuela, and as the economic situation deteriorates there is a chance that protests like this could begin to generate additional social momentum in rejection of the status quo. President Nicolas Maduro has been in office for less than a year, and in that time the inflation rate has surged to over 50 percent and food shortages are a daily problem. Though firmly in power, the Chavista government is still struggling to address massive social and economic challenges. Massive government spending, years of nationalization and an overreliance on imports for basic consumer goods have radically deteriorated inflation levels, and undermined industrial production.

How the government responds will play a key role in the development of these protests going forward. The government cannot afford to crack down too hard without risking even worse unrest in the future. For its part, the mainstream opposition must walk a careful line between supporting the sentiment behind open unrest and being seen as destabilizing the country. Maduro retains the power to punish opposition politicians, and reaffirmed that Feb. 11 when he stated on national television that he intends to renew the law allowing him to outlaw political candidates who threaten the peace of the country. The statement was a clear shot over the bow of opposition leaders, and may foreshadow a more aggressive government policy designed to limit political opposition.

Perhaps it is the use of armed forces directly and aggressively that will roil the “poor”‘s perspective – we will see

Maduro Warns Venezuelan Protesters "We Are Coming For You"; Calls John Kerry A "Murderer" | Zero Hedge

Maduro Warns Venezuelan Protesters “We Are Coming For You”; Calls John Kerry A “Murderer” | Zero Hedge.

As the daily street protests grow bloodier and bloodier, Venezuelan President Maduro has escalated his comments today, exclaiming that he “won’t be bullied,” and warning “prepare yourself, we are coming for you,” if protesters don’t “go home within hours.”

  • *VENEZUELAN PROTESTERS HAVE ‘HOURS’ TO CLEAR BARRICADES: MADURO
  • *MADURO SAYS HE’LL SEND ARMED FORCES TO ‘LIBERATE’ PROTEST AREAS

With 28 dead in the last month of protests, things are very serious but as we warned previously, Maduro still enjoying the support of the poor – as EuroNews reports, it appears he is not going anywhere soonJohn Kerry also came under fire as the foreign minister called him “a “murderer of the Venezuelan people,” accusing him of encouraging the protests.

As Bloomberg reports,

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro says he will send armed forces to clear barricaded areas if “protesters don’t go home within hours.”

“Prepare yourself, we are coming for you,” Maduro tells soldiers at army event in Caracas

Plaza Altamira in eastern Caracas, the center of the protests, first to be “liberated,” Maduro says

As tensions with the US continue to rise:

The United States on Friday brushed aside “absurd” accusations by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro that it was meddling in the country’s internal affairs by intervening in anti-government protests.

Venezuela’s foreign minister Elias Jaua had earlier called top US diplomat John Kerry a “murderer of the Venezuelan people,” accusing him of encouraging the protests that have killed 28 people in five weeks.

“The solution to Venezuela’s problems lies in democratic dialogue among Venezuelans, not in repression or in hurling verbal brickbats at the United States,” a state department official said on condition of anonymity.

“Venezuela’s government needs to focus on solving its growing economic and social problems, not on making absurd allegations against the United States.”

Maduro, however, charged that “the desperate government interventionism of the United States is clear.”

“There’s a slew of statements, threats of sanctions, threats of intervention. There has been lobbying by the highest officials in the US government,” he said.

As Stratfor notesthese protests could mark a turning point as the economic situation deteriorates there is a chance that protests like this could begin to generate additional social momentum in rejection of the status quoPerhaps things could be changing for Maduro…

Relatively large student-led opposition protests convened in Caracas, Valencia, Maracaibo and many other cities throughout the country. Rough Stratfor estimates put the crowd in Caracas at between 15,000-20,000 people based on aerial photos posted on social media. Venezuela’s students are very politically active and protests are frequent. However, the relatively large turnout and widespread geographic distribution of this week’s protests indicate that the movement may be gaining traction.

The challenge that the student movement will face is in finding a way to include Venezuela’s laboring class, which for the most part still supports the government, and relies on its redistributive policies. Their inability to rouse broad support across Venezuela’s social and economic classes was in part why previous student uprisings, including significant protests in 2007, failed to generate enough momentum to trigger a significant political shift.

But the situation has changed in Venezuela, and as the economic situation deteriorates there is a chance that protests like this could begin to generate additional social momentum in rejection of the status quo. President Nicolas Maduro has been in office for less than a year, and in that time the inflation rate has surged to over 50 percent and food shortages are a daily problem. Though firmly in power, the Chavista government is still struggling to address massive social and economic challenges. Massive government spending, years of nationalization and an overreliance on imports for basic consumer goods have radically deteriorated inflation levels, and undermined industrial production.

How the government responds will play a key role in the development of these protests going forward. The government cannot afford to crack down too hard without risking even worse unrest in the future. For its part, the mainstream opposition must walk a careful line between supporting the sentiment behind open unrest and being seen as destabilizing the country. Maduro retains the power to punish opposition politicians, and reaffirmed that Feb. 11 when he stated on national television that he intends to renew the law allowing him to outlaw political candidates who threaten the peace of the country. The statement was a clear shot over the bow of opposition leaders, and may foreshadow a more aggressive government policy designed to limit political opposition.

Perhaps it is the use of armed forces directly and aggressively that will roil the “poor”‘s perspective – we will see

Venezuelan activists urge more protests – Americas – Al Jazeera English

Venezuelan activists urge more protests – Americas – Al Jazeera English.

Call for nationwide rallies comes after dozens are arrested in street battles between government forces and protesters.

Last updated: 01 Mar 2014 18:13
Venezuelan activists have called for nationwide protests after 41 people were arrested in street battles between government forces and protesters.Leaders of the activist wing of the opposition, legislator Maria Corina Machado and members of the Popular Will party, led by jailed ex-mayor Leopoldo Lopez, called on people to rally on Saturday against what they called “repression, torture and persecution.”

This comes as eight foreigners were arrested during a rally in Caracas on charges of “international terrorism,” state VTV television said.

Venezuela’s barricades are symbol of protest

Popular Will said that an arrest warrant was issued for Carlos Vecchio, the party’s national political coordinator, accused of crimes linked to the protests that include arson and criminal damage.

On Friday, hooded protesters set up barricades and responded with a steady barrage of Molotov cocktails against the National Guard, as they were fired on with water and tear gas canisters in an attempt to break up the crowd in Caracas’ wealthy district of Chacao.

Journalists under fire

Venezuela’s journalist association SNTP has said that one of the foreigners arrested was US freelance reporter Andrew Rosati, from the Miami Herald.

Rosati was detained for half an hour and released after being “struck in the face and his abdomen” by security forces, the SNTP, said on Twitter.

Also detained and released was a team of journalists from the Associated Press, the SNTP said.

The SNTP also said that Italian photographer Francesca Commissari, who works for the local daily El Nacional, was being held.

In the past week, the Venezuelan government threatened to expel CNN if it did not “rectify” its coverage of the unrest.

Government officials released no details on the arrest of foreigners.

Escalating violence

Angry at the policies of the country’s leftist government, three weeks of violent protests against President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government have left 18 dead, with the crisis showing little sign of abating.

Protest organiser Alfredo Romero, president of the Venezuelan Penal Forum, said 33 cases of “cruel and inhuman treatment or torture” have been reported to the public ombudsman.

The Venezuelan government said it was investigating 27 cases of human rights abuses, though it provided no details of possible wrongdoing.

Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz said that the death toll linked to the protests stood at 18, while of the 1,044 that had been detained, 72 remain behind bars.

Some of the deaths have been attributed to violent clashes with police, but other victims have been shot by unidentified gunmen.

The government has denied all links to such killings.

US urges dialogue

With no sign of a breakthrough, Washington urged Maduro to talk to the protesters.

“They need to reach out and have a dialogue, and bring people together and resolve their problems,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in Washington Friday, urging against “arrests and violence in the streets.”

Kerry said the United States was working with Colombia and other countries to bolster mediation efforts.

Maduro has labelled the protests that began on February 4 a Washington-backed attempted “coup.”

He claims that radical opposition leaders have joined students angered by high inflation and goods shortage in plotting to topple his nearly year-old government.

A cascade of woes hitting Venezuela’s oil industry « The Barrel Blog

A cascade of woes hitting Venezuela’s oil industry « The Barrel Blog.

By John Kingston | February 28, 2014 10:11 PM 

At a conference that annually celebrates–for the most part–the explosion of North American supply, a panel that featured two PDVSA alumni turned into a bleak review of an almost unfathomable crisis gripping the Venezuelan oil industry.

The strife in the streets of Caracas, and the lines of people waiting to buy the basic stuff of life, are almost secondary to the fact that, as the panelists noted, the Venezuelan government has mortgaged the future of its oil industry. Waiting for the country’s rapidly sinking ship of state to be righted by an increase in production, and maybe a boost in prices too, increasingly appears to be a pipe dream.

The two panelists discussing this on day two of the Platts Crude Oil Market-Americas conference in Houston were Alberto Cisnernos Lavalier, CEO and president of Caracas-based Global Business Consultants, and Ramon Espinasa, the lead oil and gas specialist in the Infrastructure and Environment Department at the Interamerican Development Bank.

One of the topics to be discussed at the panel was whether Venezuela was ripe for a “mini-apertura,” an opening into new investment in the country’s oil sector. The initial apertura of the 90′s was squashed by the election of Hugo Chavez as Venezuelan president, and it started the downward spiral of Venezuelan production that sent output down to 2.1 million b/d from 3.6 million b/d at its peak.

After listening to the panelists, one could only conclude that the industry is ripe for total collapse, not a surge in foreign investment.

Cisnernos noted Venezuela’s series of financial deals with China, in which loans from the Asian country are sent to Caracas in exchange for oil. The oil is sold at fixed-price numbers, which don’t look all that bad at first glance, up in the $90-$100 level, but in which the prices are CIF China and Venezuela absorbs the shipping cost. He reviewed the complicated structures of the various deals, ultimately describing them as “mortgaging the future.”

The Venezuela-China deals also violate the market’s “iron law” that usually sees oil marketed regionally, Cisnernos said. Instead, shipments taking 35-45 days to China are replacing one-week voyages into the US, Cisnernos said. And since most of the shipments are of lesser-value heavy oil or fuel oil, the shipping costs are deducting a higher percentage from the final netback than if a higher-value crude was being moved.

Venezuelan shipments to China stood at 66,000 b/d in 2008, Cisnernos said, but had averaged 326,000 b/d through the first eight months of 2013; he said he drew those figures from unofficial–and undisclosed–sources. But they’ve been as high as 488,000 b/d, he added, and “it’s roller-coaster behavior. There is no relation to production.” By contrast, the decline in exports to the US very much tracks Venezuela’s sliding output.

And the debts to China are just one of the obligations facing Venezuela. The joint ventures in the Orinoco belt each need upgraders that cost anywhere from $8 billion to $10 billion each. PDVSA must put up about 60% of the costs. “How in the world are they going to be able to pay for this?” Cisnernos said.

And Espinasa echoed what Platts Oilgram News reported a few weeks ago (and which The Barrel published in this post): financing the required PDVSA contributions to the Orinoco projects have been paid for to some degree by promising future oil shipments that would otherwise have gone to the Venezuelan coffers. “For a number of PDVSA deals they have paid for them with future supply,” he said.

The list of lamentations went on, few of them particularly shocking: the enormous brain drain from PDVSA “which will take a long time to recover,” as Espinasa said; a safety record at PDVSA refineries that could charitably be described as appalling; and a refinery operating rate that may at best top out at 60%, requiring the country to import lots of things it previously had exported, like gasoline blending components.

And with the growing street unrest in the country, forget any chance of ending the subsidy of gasoline prices that keeps retail numbers at less than 10 US cents per gallon, and leads to smuggling of what Espinasa said was about 100,000 b/d of product through Colombia and other parts of the Caribbean. The government had considered it, but given street protests, that move would be—pun clearly intended–like “throwing gasoline on the fire.”

Yet Cisnernos actually showed some optimism. He said that if there was “light at the end of the tunnel”—though why there would be was not clear—then production could be like a “hammock,” continuing to slide now but rebounding by 2020.

Espinasa offered sobering numbers on the task ahead. Twice in its history as an oil producer, Venezuela produced annual average growth rates of 110,000 b/d. The first was in the post World War II period, ending in about 1958; the second was during the Luis Guisti-led apertura of the 90’s. For Venezuela to get back to its peak output of 3.6 million b/d, reached around 1997, it would need to hit that average growth rate and sustain it for at least ten years, maybe more depending on the rates of decline in existing fields.

And he didn’t say this, but that would have to be done while some of the output that would otherwise finance that growth has already been put up as a sort of petroleum dowry to China and the Orinoco partners.

Grim, indeed.

Death toll rises in Venezuela amid roadblocks – Americas – Al Jazeera English

Death toll rises in Venezuela amid roadblocks – Americas – Al Jazeera English.

Consensus and dialogue rare in divided nation as barricades are enforced and fires smoulder around Caracas.

 Last updated: 25 Feb 2014 05:27

Demonstrators say they will not remove roadblocks until public safety improves [Chris Arsenault/Al Jazeera]
Caracas, Venezuela – Opposition activists have erected roadblocks across parts of the capital Caracas, halting transportation in an attempt to escalate the ongoing political standoff.

Demonstrators manning barricades in a suburb in eastern Caracas said on Monday they would not end the blockade until safety improved in one of the most violent countries in Latin America.

“We are protecting ourselves from the military and [armed pro-government] collectives who might try and come here,” said a student covering his face beside piles of rubbish and logs at a blocked intersection.

“I have been robbed many times.”

He spoke to Al Jazeera requesting anonymity.

The death toll from the unrest beginning in early February rose to 13, the government announced on Monday.

In Caracas’s business district, more than 1,000 pro-government motorcycle drivers massed outside the presidential palace, criticising what they consider an opposition plot to destabilise the country and topple the elected government of President Nicolas Maduro.

“The opposition are the ones who are causing problems, not us,” Gusmarly Morillo, the wife of a motorcycle taxi driver, told Al Jazeera as she waited to enter the grounds of Miraflores Palace.

“They [opposition partisans] think we are criminals just because we are poor and live in a slum.”

Lighting rod for anger

Motorcycles are the vehicle of choice for members of pro-government collectives – groups which sometimes use force in what they consider defence of the socialist revolution.

The collectives have become a lightening rod for opposition anger recently.

They are dubbed “shock troops” or “paramilitaries” by government critics who accuse them of attacking student protesters and terrorising middle class areas at the government’s behest.

But Katiuska Aponte, vice president of the Bolivarian Motorcycle Association, said those accusations are unfounded.

“The motorcyclists aren’t all collective members; they’re just workers trying to make a living to feed their families,” she told Al Jazeera.

For members of pro-government collectives, motorcycles are the vehicle of choice [Chris Arsenault/Al Jazeera]

“Part of the question of insecurity is coming from groups bent on destabilising the country. They are trying to delegitimise our government. We are here protesting on two wheels in favour of our elected president and in favour of peace.”

Poor communities on the hills around Caracas form the backbone of government support in the capital.

Opposition politicians, including defeated presidential contender Henrique Capriles, have pledged to do more to appeal to lower-class voters.

They want to shake the opposition’s image as representatives of a privileged elites.

But supermarket staff in upscale eastern Caracas did not seem impressed by the roadblocks.

“For us, people who work here but don’t live here, the blockades are a big problem because we can’t get to work easily,” Franklin Moran told Al Jazeera as he and a group of supermarket employees in uniforms watched students guard a barricade.

“If the protests were more symbolic and less disruptive, we would be more likely to support them.”

Students at another blockade nearby claimed they understood the concerns of Caracas’ poor.

“The opposition doesn’t want to take away the missions [centres providing social services] from the poor,” Brian Rubeiro, an opposition protester manning a barricade, told Al Jazeera.

“We want the social programmes, but there needs to be accountability and less corruption.”

Question of collectives

Oil prices rose ten-fold during the socialist period, and the opposition believes much of the massive cash infusion into South America’s largest oil exporter has been squandered.

“In the end, we are all Venezuelans and we want a prosperous future and peace,” Rubeiro said.

Maduro called for a peace dialogue to take place on Wednesday, but students said that could not solve the crisis unless the government starts disarming collectives as a show of good faith.

Capriles refuses to attend talks until Leopoldo Lopez, another opposition politician, is released from jail and the “repression” ends.

There was at least one rare moment of consensus in the deeply divided country on Monday.

Protesters blocking the road near Altamira Square in Caracas let through a group of motorcycle drivers heading to a pro-government rally after the two sides had a discussion.

“Forty Chavistas on motorbikes came through on the way to the demonstration,” Gustavo Ortega, a marketing student and demonstrator, told Al Jazeera.

“We negotiated and let them pass through; it’s the first time I have seen something like this.”

Moments of consensus and dialogue are rare, however, as barricades are enforced and fires smoulder around the city.

Caracas Is Burning As Maduro Warned May Face Military Coup | Zero Hedge

Caracas Is Burning As Maduro Warned May Face Military Coup | Zero Hedge.

With all eyes focused on Ukraine, the situation in Venezuela has once again escalated as protest leader Leopoldo Lopez’ arrest (and possible 10 year jail sentence) prompted more violence overnight. However, as we warned, the government crackdown is starting to raise concerns about the stability of the government.

  • *VENEZUELA PROTESTS ESCALATING INTO NATIONWIDE UNREST: IHS
  • *ESCALATION OF PROTESTS PUTS STABILITY OF GOVT AT RISK: IHS
  • *RISING VIOLENCE COULD LEAD TO MADURO OUSTER BY MILITARY: IHS

As opposition leader Capriles asks Venezuela’s military to uphold the constitution, he exclaims that “the poor’ must participate for government to change.

  • *VENEZUELA HATILLO MAYOR DAVID SMOLANSKY SPEAKS IN CARACAS
  • *VENEZUELA PEOPLE WON’T STAY QUIET: SMOLANSKY
  • *SMOLANSKY SAYS VENEZUELA SUFFERED TERROR LAST NIGHT
  • *SMOLANSKY CALLS FOR MASSIVE VENEZUELA PROTESTS SATURDAY

The opposition leader speaks:

  • *VENEZUELA OFFICIALS SHOT AT PROTESTERS YDAY: CAPRILES
  • *VENEZUELA ARMED FORCES SHOULD ALLOW PEACEFUL MARCHES: SMOLANSKY
  • *VENEZUELA STRENGTHENING TIES WITH CUBA, RAMIREZ SAYS
  • *VENEZUELA GOVT USING VIOLENCE TO HIDE ECO PROBLEMS: CAPRILES
  • *CAPRILES SAYS SOME IN VENEZUELA GOVT WANT MADURO OUT
  • *CAPRILES ASKS VENEZUELA ARMED FORCES TO UPHOLD CONSTITUTION
  • *VENEZUELA POOR MUST PARTICIPATE FOR GOVT TO CHANGE: CAPRILES
  • *CAPRILES SAYS HE WON’T BE FORCED TO TALK TO VENEZUELA GOVT

And IHS warns:

  • *VENEZUELA PROTESTS ESCALATING INTO NATIONWIDE UNREST: IHS
  • *ESCALATION OF PROTESTS PUTS STABILITY OF GOVT AT RISK: IHS
  • *RISING VIOLENCE COULD LEAD TO MADURO OUSTER BY MILITARY: IHS

Images from last night suggest this is getting considerably worse…despite Maduro’s claims of “absolute calm”

and of course the terrible death of a former Miss Venezuela…

Staged Opposition Violence in Venezuela. Towards a “Colored Revolution”? | Global Research

Staged Opposition Violence in Venezuela. Towards a “Colored Revolution”? | Global Research.

Opposition Violence, Two Deaths Mark Day of Youth in Venezuela

Global Research, February 14, 2014
Venezuelanalysis.com 12 February 2014
venezuela

Violent opposition groups attacked government buildings and civilians, and clashed with police and government supporters following peaceful marches commemorating the Day of Youth.

The violence has claimed two deaths and left 23 injured across the country. Thirty arrests have been made according to government sources.

Venezuela commemorates the day of the youth on 12 February each year in memory of the role of young people in the decisive independence battle in La Victoria in 1814. Today marked the bicentenary of the historic battle.

Caracas

In mid afternoon President Nicolas Maduro delivered a speech in Caracas, praising the morning’s marches as peaceful. However, shortly later one Chavista was reported to have been killed amid clashes involving opposition activists. Juan Montoya, also known as Juancho was shot. He was a community leader in the Chavista stronghold, Barrio 23 de Enero. This afternoon National Assembly head Diosdado Cabello condemned the shooting, and accused armed right-wing groups of “hunting down” Montoya.

“They are fascists, murderers, and then they talk about dialogue,” Cabello stated, referring to armed right-wing activists. The AN head called for calm, and urged against reprisals.

Juan Montoya, on the right, talking to El Universal in August last year

Violent opposition groups also attacked the attorney general’s office in Carabobo Park, Caracas. Photographs of the scene indicate the building’s exterior was damaged.

A building belonging to the government owned Fundacaracas organisation was also attacked by opposition groups. A few hours later the mayor of Caracas’s Libertador municipality, the PSUV’s Jorge Rodriguez also reported that the judicial offices in Chacao, Miranda, were also attacked. Later in the night the National Guard were deployed to the state owned VTV offices in Los Ruices. Disturbances had been reported in the area, though no further details were available at the time of writing.

In the evening, President Nicolas Maduro stated that violent opposition groups had also set fire to five police patrol vehicles. He also stated that a group of around two hundred violent activists had attempted to attack Miraflores Palace after the attorney general’s office.

Merida

After weeks of small, violent protests in Merida, there was a large march by government supporters in one part of the Andean city, and a larger march by opposition supporters elsewhere. Both were observed to be peaceful by Venezuelanalysis. However, violence began shortly after the opposition march finished. Clashes took place in Merida’s streets after individuals began burning garbage in intersections and erecting barricades.

A larger confrontation took place at a major intersection in the city’s north. Witnesses told Venezuelanalys.com that they saw men in balaclavas occupy a number of apartments, and fire live ammunition into the streets below. Riot police blocked the intersection. Hundreds of government supporters gathered a few hundred metres behind the police lines.

“We’re defending the city centre,” one supporter told Venezuelanalysis.

The Pro-Government March

At the pro-government march in the morning, Roger Zurita told Venezuelanalysis.com, “I’m worried about confrontations but I’m marching because today is the day of the youth, to celebrate the battle of La Victoria, not because of the opposition march. We have to organise ourselves around our values. We’re celebrating with happiness and peace the youth who struggle, our independence, the struggle for political power. Today we have an anti-imperialist youth and people are waking up, we’re not going to fall for the right wing’s games.”

“I’m marching for various reasons, mainly because I still believe in the project of our country, which still hasn’t been fully realised, but if we work just a bit harder we can do it, we have a lot to do. Also because it’s important to show that we are many, there are a lot of people who believe in this. What’s been happening in Merida is sad, regrettable. It’s a shame that they [violent sectors of the opposition] can’t propose anything without violence. We shouldn’t respond with violence. But the only proposal they seem to have is to get people into power who have never cared about the people, they just want to sell our country to the [US] empire,” Raquel Barrios told Venezuelanalysis, referring to the last four days of violence in Merida.

“I’m marching to commemorate the battle of La Victoria, but they [the opposition leadership] are manipulating the youth of Merida and parts of the opposition, they want to put an end to everything we’ve achieved, but they won’t be able to, because we’re peaceful people but ready for any necessary battle,” said Douglas Vasquez told  Venezuelanalysis.

“Basically I’m marching to rescue Merida. We can’t let Merida be in the hands of violent people. I’m a teacher at the University of Los Andes (ULA), and I feel very ashamed that the recent violent incidents are mostly promoted by people from the ULA, who hope to create discomfort in the people in order to overthrow a consolidated and democratically elected government,” Katania Felisola said to Venezuelanalysis.

The Opposition March

The opposition march started at the ULA and went down the Americas Avenue after a last minute redirection.

Fernando Peña, a chemical engineering student at the ULA told Venezuelanalysis’s Ewan Robertson, “The students have felt the need to show themselves against [the goverment], because they have taken students prisoner in Mérida and Táchira just for expressing their right to protest. Right now feelings are very tense, because the people are tired of the government, [and] the students are the centre of the mobilisation throughout the country. The people now deeply disagree with the decisions that the government makes…living in Venezuela has become ever more difficult”.

Jan Carlos Lopez, worker in the Medical Faculty of the ULA told VA, “Some of the main reasons [for the march] are the shortages that are being experienced in the country, criminality, and insecurity. There isn’t an organisation that can protect us at night time so that we can go out. That’s what we’re asking for, security so that all Venezuelans can live in peace.”

Other opposition marchers told Robertson that they blamed the government for the violence, for “sending out motorbikes to attack students”.

In the violence after the marches, two people have been reported as injured, both shot in the legs. One of those was Jilfredo Barradas, a state government photographer.

“It’s a show, everyone knew it would turn out like this, it was planned,” one Merida activist told Venezuelanalysis, referring to the violence both in the Americas intersection as well as on Avenue 3.

Further, Gustavo Bazan told Venezuelanalysis, “On Friday they [violent opposition sectors] wanted to store Molotov cocktails [in the apartment where Bazan lives] and break up bricks in order to have rocks. I stepped out of line a bit and I told them that here they weren’t protesting against the government but rather against their own neighbours. I challenged them to take off their balaclavas and said to them they weren’t capable of coming over and having a conversation. They jumped over the fence and three of them started to beat me up. A friend and a building security guard saved me. I filmed them while they prepared the Molotov cocktails”. 

Other cities

Electricity minister Jesse Chacon informed through his Twitter account that “violent groups” surrounded an electric substation in San Cristobal and threw Molotov cocktails at it.

According to AVN there was also violence in Aragua and Carabobo states “which left material damage”.

The governor of Carabobo state, Francisco Ameliach said that “violent groups burnt a truck with liquid asphalt”. Ameliach alleged that the head of the MUD in the state, Vicencio Scarano had financed the crimes.

The minister for internal affairs, Miguel Rodriguez Torres, said that violent groups had tried to set the Aragua state government building on fire.

Official response

Tonight Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz informed the public that so far there have been a total of two deaths, 23 injured, and thirty arrests. Along with Montoya, student Basil Da Costa died after suffering a gunshot.  She added though that public lawyers were investigating and visiting hospitals to determine the exact number. According to Maduro the two men were both shot in the head, “like the sharp shooters who murdered [people] on 11 April [2002]”.

Ortega also said that four CICPC (Scientific Crime Investigation Body) vehicles were set on fire, as well as other private vehicles.

Regarding the march in Caracas, she said “they were guaranteed security from Plaza Venezuela to the Attorney General’s Office, there was nothing to impede them”.

Maduro also warned tonight that “whoever protests or marches without permission will be detained”.

“These are trained groups who… are prepared to overthrow the government in a violent way, and I’m not going to allow this, so I call on Venezuela to be peaceful,” Maduro said.

Foreign minister Elias Jaua alleged that Leopoldo Lopez was the “intellectual author of the deaths and injuries in Caracas”.

The Ecuadorian government emitted a statement today condemning the “acts of violence and vandalism by irresponsible members of the opposition”.

“We hope for the prompt reestablishment of social peace in our brother country and because respect for the government and its legitimately constituted institutions has precedence”.

Opposition statements and response

“This a call put out by the students and supported by the Democratic Unity [MUD opposition coalition], this march on the day of the youth is taking place when the government is repressing, with jail, with torture,” Leopoldo Lopez told CNN yesterday, in anticipation of today’s events.

“The government has an agenda of violence and as they control the monopoly [sic] over communication in Venezuela they hide it…the call that has been made is to be in the street,” he said, blaming the violence over the last week in Merida and Tachira on the government.

Speaking tonight on Noticias 24, Lopez blamed the national government for today’s violence and deaths. “Who is generating the violence? The government… repression by the national guard, the police,” he said.

Some of the top tweets by the opposition at the moment also blamed the Tupamaros groups. The Tupamaros are now quite small, but are often blamed for any violence that takes place. They support the national government.

“They (Tupamaros) are animals and they should all die,” wrote Daniel Garcia.

“Hitler, come back and put all the Tupamaros in gas chambers” wrote Andreina Leonett.

“When the first student dies all the streets of Venezuela will burn,” wrote Jose Gamboa.

Over the last week far right opposition leaders such as Leopoldo Lopez have been calling for people to “go out into the street” in order to achieve an “exit” of the national government.

Two Dead As Venezuela’s Anti-Goverment Protests Turn Bloody – Live Feed | Zero Hedge

Two Dead As Venezuela’s Anti-Goverment Protests Turn Bloody – Live Feed | Zero Hedge.

It appears it’s not enough to have a record year on your stock market? Economic hardship, socialism, starvation, and not enough toilet paper have apparently led to the bloodiest riots in Caracas in years. As AP reports, at least 2 people were killed as large anti-Maduro protests engulfed the nation’s capital.

The logo of the anti-Maduro protestors…

La querida #Venezuela q cobijó a tantos exiliados chilenos, hoy es ignorada! ???? #NoMasMaduro #12FDespiertaVenezuela pic.twitter.com/fb3GdUWWPc

— I v o !? (@Ivobreque) February 12, 2014

And direct from Maduro’s Twitter account showing the world that all is well…

RT @tmaniglia: 12 FEB Youth Day: The worker president on the street with the youngsters #JuventudCombatePorLaPatria http://t.co/tH1BvMDZxN

— Nicolás Maduro (@maduro_en) February 12, 2014

Live Feed:

Via AP,

Gunfire erupted in downtown Caracas when armed members of a pro-government vigilante group arrived on motorcycles and began firing at more than 100 anti-Maduro student protesters clashing with security forces. As the crowd fled in panic, one demonstrator fell to the ground with a bullet wound in his head.

Also killed was the leader of a pro-government 23rd of January collective, as militant supporters of Venezuela’s socialist administration call themselves. National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello said the “revolutionary” known by his nickname Juancho was “vilely assassinated by the fascists” but he didn’t provide details.

While anti-government demonstrators vented frustration over issues ranging from rampant crime to mounting economic hardships, they were united in their resolve to force Maduro out of office by constitutional means.

All of these problems — shortages, inflation, insecurity, the lack of opportunities — have a single culprit: the government,”  Leopoldo Lopez, a Harvard University-trained former mayor, told a crowd of about 10,000 people gathered at Plaza Venezuela in Caracas.

Images of the Deadly day…

Ahora mismo esto es chacao #12FVenezuelaPaLaCalle pic.twitter.com/PYeE6H4LOf

— Selene ingrid (@belleselene) February 12, 2014

@Peru21pe#Venezuela: Jornada violenta en marcha contra el #chavismo http://t.co/3inFptQ2lW pic.twitter.com/kcfK27t2Zi” Pobre Venezuela.

— Manuel Vidalón (@iosoimanuel) February 12, 2014

pic.twitter.com/MAwpkHqjUJ @CNNEE #Venezuela #12F

— Genesis Veronica R (@genicaRive) February 12, 2014

#Venezuela: ho l’impressione che sia in atto una vera e propria rivolta contro il governo pic.twitter.com/GWo0cFNzMu

— Francesco Guttuso (@FraGuttuso) February 12, 2014

Maduro Asesino! Imágenes Hace minutos en el centro de caracas #360ucv #12F pic.twitter.com/NoFe1x7EfZ #venezuela Fuera #cuba

— YA CUBA TWITEA (@YACUBATWITEA) February 12, 2014

#SOS Represion en #Venezuela #Urgente que esta foto le de la vuelta a mundo #12FVenezuelaPaLaCalle #Cuba pic.twitter.com/CJIVD1V0Ac

— Alfredo d Jesus Viso (@AlfredoViso01) February 12, 2014

Aumenta violencia en protestas en #Venezuela. Fiscalía ya confirma dos fallecidos pic.twitter.com/5DNvOpGBKb

— Diario El Mundo (@Diario_ElMundo) February 12, 2014

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