Venezuela: left-dissident party raided

Venezuelan police on June 10 raided the offices of the Trotskyist left-opposition organization Marea Socialista in Caracas on the orders of a local court. The raid was carried out by agents of the Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigative Corps (CICPC), with a warrant to search the premises for "objects of criminal interest," including "counterfeit foreign currency," "firearms," "information storage units," and "documentation related to financial transactions." According to a press statement issued by Marea Socialista, the agents arrived at the offices heavily armed, offered no explanation for the search, and promptly departed a half-hour later after failing to find what they were looking for. The party's founder Nicmer Evans confirmed that following the raid the organization received two calls from the CICPC director, who "tried to justify that the cause for the raid was not related to MS." The statement called the incident a "grave violation of political liberties," and the latest in a series of "retaliations, threats, violations of privacy, firings, and limitations of social and political rights" that the party's members have suffered in the "last three years" and especially in the "last six months."

Marea Socialista has emerged as one of the most vocal leftist critics of the Maduro government, charging that high-level corruption has corroded the revolutionary process. Last year, the self-identified "critical" Chavista organization broke with the ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV) and filed for independent party status in order to field its own candidates in December's parliamentary elections, in which the ruling party lost its majority. The request was denied by the National Electoral Council (CNE) on the grounds of the alleged unviability of the organization's name. The day after the raid, Venezuela's Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge by Marea Socialista, demanding a reversal of the electoral body's decision.

Marea Socialista is not the only political group that has been subject to raids by security forces in recent months. In March, a group of popular organizations affiliated with the PSUV denounced a raid on their Caracas meeting space, known as "El Castillete," by military intelligence officials. The military officials reportedly "caused damage to the property," and confiscated "pedagogical material, office supplies, projectors, informative material, and money from [the center's] finances." The organizations suggested that the raid was prompted by their "critical attitude" toward the recent direction of the revolutionary process and their opposition to official corruption. (VenezuelAnalysis, June 14; Aporrea, June 10)