Venezuela: opposition protest “blacklist”

Some 10,000 Venezuelans protested in Caracas July 12 to demand the country’s supreme court overturn a “blacklist”—or “inhabilitación política”—barring several opponents of President Hugo Chávez from running in upcoming state and municipal elections. Chanting “freedom!” and waving Venezuelan flags, the demonstrators marched on the Supreme Justice Tribunal building, where they urged justices to strike down the list.

Unveiled in February by the country’s top anti-corruption official, Controller General Clodosbaldo Russián, the list disqualifies 272 politicians—mostly from the opposition. Venezuela’s Roman Catholic Church called the list “a measure that tarnishes the democratic environment.” More than a dozen members of the 1999 assembly that drafted the current constitution, including the president’s ex-wife Marisabel Rodríguez, accuse Russián of violating the law. Rodríguez said at the protest that Russián is “illegally excluding those who don’t share the president’s socialist agenda.”

Chávez is backing up Russián. “Now they accuse him of following my orders,” he told a rally July 11. “No, they are not my orders.” He said the protesters “should be ashamed of themselves” for defending candidates suspected of corruption and who should be headed for prison. (AP, Notimex, July 12)

See our last post on Venezula.

  1. Venezuelan opposition goes ongepotschket in Merida
    From VenezuelAnalysis, July 12, via Upside Down World:

    A notoriously violent Venezuelan student organization aligned with the Venezuelan opposition known as the March 13th Movement (M13) fired gunshots and threw Molotov cocktails at police officers, blockaded streets using seized university buses, and ransacked sections of the Andean town of Mérida on Thursday and Friday, to protest crime and insecurity in the city.

    So far, one student is dead and three injured, two police officers were shot and more than a dozen injured, dozens of city blocks were severely vandalized, and 5 local businesses were sacked as a result of chaotic street battles initiated by the student group, which is registered at the University of the Andes (ULA).

    The events are reminiscent of destabilization campaigns led by the M13 during crucial political junctures in the past. Most recently, during the run-up to the December 2007 constitutional reform referendum, the M13 created nodes of destabilizing violence to sway voters against the proposals of the Chávez administration, using similar tactics to those used this Thursday and Friday.

    Mérida’s State Secretary, Jairo Rivas, commented Friday, “There is no sincerity in what the students are suggesting, since the routine work of the police is affected in order to attend to these problems of public order” created by the protests, which were advertised by posters earlier in the week. [Huh?—WW4R]

    Rivas, whose administration identifies itself as a “Bolivarian” ally of President Hugo Chávez, pointed out Friday that Venezuela is in the midst of regional and local electoral campaigns, and at the top of the opposition electoral platform is citizen security in the country. “We consider this to be the real, end motivation that the students have,” Rivas told the press.