Venezuela’s Opposition Leaders Call on Youth, Dismiss Allegations

Venezuelan opposition leaders, María Corina Machado and Leopoldo López, held a press conference late on Wednesday night in response to the government’s show of force during a day of planned demonstrations across the country. In particular, they rejected the accusations that they were responsible for the incitement of violence that led to the death of two students.

López insists the marches conducted across the country — in which hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans hit the streets to voice their dissent towards the regime — were entirely peaceful and civil. He claims the violence was caused by police inaction, and even likely orchestrated by the government itself in an effort to discredit the opposition.

Why wasn’t there a clear police presence . . . If the permit [for the protest] was up to the office, why — unlike the past 15 years of demonstrations — why weren’t police stationed at the end of the march where it was scheduled?

Why, instead, was there — a block away from the office and an hour and a half later — a squad of hundreds police officers, with a group of armed paramilitaries behind them?

Why, after we retreated in a peaceful manner . . . only a small group of about 30 were left behind and began throwing rocks and bottles at the office — and [then] there were squads of hundreds of police standing only 50 meters away, why did they do nothing to stop them?

The reason is because it was planned. It was orchestrated. It was a plan orchestrated by the state that intensified in communications in the last several days — done to try and frame us directly.

Maria Corina Machado relayed a similar message to her supporters and urged the people of Venezuela to continue to take action.

This regime has been free to commit the worst of crimes. That is why at this time, it becomes clearer than ever that today students were motivated for justice, respect, and freedom.

I also want to send a message on behalf of all these Venezuelans to those in power — this regime that is willing to do anything, without any scruples, to the point where they will destroy our country to retain power. They warned and threatened us about what would happen today, because violence is only convenient for the government. Because they are terrified of a peaceful and civil movement of Venezuelans in every street in the country.

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