Despite Government Obstacles, Over a Million Venezuelans March on Caracas

By: Karina Martín - Sep 1, 2016, 6:21 pm
Henrique Capriles Radonski, said that today will be "the largest mobilization in the history of the country" (elcorreodelorinoco)
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles called the march “the largest demonstration in the history” of Venezuela. (elcorreodelorinoco)

EspañolDespite several threats and obstacles by the Venezuelan government, September 1’s “Great March on Caracas” is being called the “largest demonstration in the history of Venezuela,” according to opposition leader and governor Henrique Capriles.

On Thursday afternoon, the former presidential candidate and other opposition leaders gathered over a million protesters from all over the country to demand a recall referendum that would remove President Nicolás Maduro from office, though many reportedly failed to reach the capital due to government “barricades and roadblocks.”

According to Capriles, the fact the government tried to stop the march using the National Guard and the police “deserves the strong condemnation of all Venezuelans.”

Over the past few days, Maduro’s administration has tried to discourage the opposition, including deporting foreign journalists attempting to cover the march, blocking transit routes to prevent citizens from reaching the capital and banning domestic flights and buses bound for Caracas.

On Wednesday, August 31, social media exploded in response to a “brutal” military and police deployment at Plaza Venezuela — one of the most important and busiest areas in Caracas. In response, Jesus Torrealba, Executive Secretary of the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) removed Plaza Venezuela from the list of meeting points during the march.

The government reportedly arrested opposition leaders and announced its own march by government supporters as an alleged “guarantee of peace” on the same day.

In the Chavista march, which was being held on Bolivar Avenue in Caracas, President Nicolás Maduro announced onstage that he would lift the immunity of all public offices to keep them from using it “to kill and commit crimes.”

However, opposing citizens continued marching, regardless of the obstacles imposed by the Venezuelan government.

So far, only teargas and assaults have been reported on the Pan American Highway, Las Mercedes and Plaza O’Higgins.

Torrealba said the next step after the march is to demand a recall referendum schedule — possibly in the form of a protest to be held tonight — as well as another mobilization September 7.

Karina Martín Karina Martín

Karina Martín is a Venezuelan reporter with the PanAm Post based in Valencia. She holds a bachelor's degree in Modern Languages from the Arturo Michelena University.

Venezuelan Regime Prevents Buses from Reaching Caracas for Opposition March

By: Orlando Avendaño - @OrlvndoA - Sep 1, 2016, 4:47 pm
Caracas march

EspañolSeveral political leaders of Venezuela's state of Tachira used social media this week to report that the National Institute of Land Transport (INTT) was preventing them from traveling to Caracas by bus — most probably, they said, to limit the number of people that can participate in the massive march that took place this Thursday, September 1. "The buses were not authorized by the Ministry of Transport to leave," one user said on Twitter, who recounted more than 120 Venezuelans who arrived to a bus station to go to Caracas and participate in the march, but were unable to. "INTT officials prevent 10 buses from leaving terminal," wrote Congresswoman Laidy Gómez of the opposition Democratic Action party. The buses, which are privately owned, were prevented by the Ministry from leaving Tachira. Tachirenses que abordarían 10 autobuses para ir a toma de Caracas no les permiten salida de — Pemex TV (@TvPemex) August 31, 2016 People from Tachira that would board 10 buses to go to the March of Caracas aren't allowed to leave. Similarly, Executive Secretary of the Justice First Party Gustavo Gandica tweeted: "The government fears the voice of the people on the streets." "No matter how many obstacles they place on us, we're still going to go this September 1," Gandica wrote. Read more: Venezuela Food Shortages Claim Lives of Malnourished Children Read more: Venezuelan Military Can Make or Break Maduro’s Recall Referendum A similar situation took place in other states as well. Eduardo Vale, a Maracaibo councilman in the state of Zulia, said the National Guard had taken over the local bus station to "prevent the departure of buses." According to news outlet Infobae, local media confirmed similar occurrences in Falcon and Merida: no vehicle was able to leave for Caracas. // "If you want to travel to Caracas you have to wait until Friday. Until then there is no way to get there," said a tradesman to local newspaper La Verdad. Transport companies were contacted by insurers, and reported they would not be held responsible if the units were damaged during trips made on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Barriers on Highways Despite the constraints made on public transportation, people have reportedly managed to get to Caracas by other means, although not without harassment and interference from government officials and the National Guard. On social media, many Venezuelans described the difficulty in traveling by highway: mile-long lines, countless checkpoints, and interrogation of bus travelers. #FOTO: Reportan gandola atravesada en la #ARC en Viaducto La Cabrera sentido hacia Caracas. 1 canal de contraflujo — Christopher Abreu (@AbreuReport) August 31, 2016 Photojournalist Andrews Abreu claimed there was a semi-truck blocking a tunnel on the most important highway in the country heading toward Caracas.

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