Mar 11, 2014

Communists of Mérida against fascist barricades uprising

We hereby publish and support the following call of the Venezuelan Communist Party and the communists of Mérida, which we have translated from Spanish.


Venezuelan Communist Party

Communists of Mérida against fascist barricades uprising

Our city presently experiences an exceptional situation never before seen. Fascist gangs pretend to lay siege to the town in an effort to weaken and finally overthrow the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, rightfully elected by the people less than a year ago.  

Barricades have been set up in streets and avenues near those neighborhoods where the upper middle class lives. The barricade rioters impede free transit, destroy public institutions, trash private stores, attack peaceful passers-by, shoot at police and officials of the National Guard, violate a whole series of laws of the Republic and enjoy the tacit support from the mayor of Mérida's Libertador municipality.

It is within these gangs that paramilitary personnel and snipers are operating, financed by drug trafficking and foreign sponsors and who serve as evidence for the interventionist policy of the forces of imperialism. We communists perceive the threat that is hovering over the Republic, its democratic institutions and the social gains which have been achieved during the government of Commander Hugo Chávez, and we understand that the current situation is being pushed forward by a fascist minority with an anti-democratic, anti-working class, anti-socialist agenda, exploiting and distorting the consciousness of the middle classes within the class struggle.

We also feel the close danger to the lives of the revolutionary militants and the working class. Thus our urgent call to all revolutionary organizations, without exclusion, to unite in one, antifascist front in order to defeat the criminal expressions of fascism at any moment and any place they appear. Furthermore, we call for the activation of the revolutionary forces within the communities and collectives. Our call is directed in the first place to the members of the Gran Polo Patriótico, but also reaches out to organizations of workers, students, peasants and other social forces. The Venezuela Communist Party opens its rows to each and everybody who is determined to fight against fascist insolence.

"Fascism, brought about by the general crisis of capitalism, is the terrorist, bloody dictatorship of the most reactionary, chauvinistic and aggressive forces, which speculate with the social discontent of the urban petty bourgeoisie and which use the latter to strengthen the position of monopoly capitalism." (Dictionary of Scientific Communism, 1975).


Mérida, March 2014.

Célula ‘Argelia Laya’ del PCV (0416-6740354). 
PCV Mérida- Comité Regional (0426-6772220).

Venezuelan Community Pie del Tiro confronts Protesters, Barricades.

This material has reached us from a friend here in Mérida who was present with his camera at the incidents in Pie del Tiro.


In February 2014, a wave of street protests, started off by groups of students and by the Venezuelan opposition, besieged the Andean city of Mérida.

Calling for the dismissal of President Nicolás Maduro, the protesters set up barricades in the main avenues of the city.

The rights of the residents to free transit was violated. Work got paralyzed and access to medical attention in cases of emergency got severely restricted. 

After a months of enduring  the barricades, various communities decided to retake their streets. 

In the night of the 8th of March, two members of Pie del Tiro community got injured by shots that came from the protesters.

Griselda Figueroa got a bullet in her face and died the day after.

Nobody has been arrested for these crimes.

The community remains in resistance and demands justice.

Regarding the current State of Affairs in Mérida / Venezuela

March 5th, 2014

Hello everybody

it's time to write a brief report and say some words about the current state of affairs here in Venezuela. The situation is worrying and, of course, reminiscent of the coup attempt against president Chávez in the year 2002, although the constellation of forces today is a different one. Ever since the last Venezuelan presidential elections of April 2013, won by a scarce margin by Nicolás Maduro, the presidential successor candidate appointed by Chávez shortly before his death, and the communal elections of past December from which the Maduro government, however, has emerged considerably strengthened, once again within the ranks of the opposition the one sector has gained the upper hand which favors a violent coup against the government.   

This is the first year in which there won't be any elections in Venezuela for a change, and the next chance for the opposition to measure forces with the Chavistas are the parliamentary elections at the end of 2015 or a recall referendum after half of president Maduro´s term in 2016. Alas, that´s too long a time to wait for and thus and ever since the end of January, under the guidance of Leopoldo López, chairman of the radical right wing party 'Voluntad Popular', we´ve seen followers of the opposition rage in the streets of Venezuela in what they say are 'peaceful' demonstrations, demanding the immediate resignation of president Maduro.

The reasons given for the persistent protests, which, contrary to what protesters and the private media assure, are of a highly violent character, are the economic problems of Venezuela like price speculation, inflation, food shortages as well as stagnant or halting production; problems, which on the one hand have their roots in the government's partly erroneous economic and financial policy, and on the other hand in the deliberate escalation of these weaknesses by big economic sectors close to the opposition, with the purpose to destabilize and overthrow the government. Also, many Venezuelans active in the retail business, as well as uncountable, ordinary citizens have contributed to this escalation by simply drawing their personal advantage from  economic policy measures such as the state subsidization of certain products, namely buying those cheap products and reselling them for an increased price, or obtaining US Dollars at the preferential rate fixed by the State and reselling them on the black market with huge gains.    

In the course of the demonstrations and protests of January and February, people got injured and some died and Leopoldo López was arrested because he had openly called on his supporters to employ violence and overthrow the government. The opposition asseverates that it is but the government which is responsible for the violence that has occurred and that the government security forces act with utter brutality against the demonstrators; corresponding photos allegedly proving these accusations and which had circulated in the first place in Twitter, but also in other electronic media, as well as in national and international print media, turned out to be fake, namely taken out of context from confrontations between demonstrators and security forces of other countries. The final objective of the media manipulation is to achieve an intervention, of whatever kind, of foreign countries in Venezuela (Obama and John Kerry already have demanded the Venezuelan government release Leopoldo López and also the 'political prisoners' - people who were arrested in flagranti for unauthorized carrying of weapons or for commiting acts of violence).   

In the meantime, the government of Maduro has convoked a National Conference for Peace and has gathered all the forces from the political and economic spectrum of the country at the round table, where the current problems and their possible solutions are to be discussed and elaborated by working committees. This is how the government intends to nip a probable spiral of violence with uncalculable consequences for the country, in the bud. Meanwhile, the protests continue, however it has to be said that they do not extend themselves across the whole country but are limited to 18 of Venezuela's 335 municipalities, whereas the states of Mérida, Táchira, DF and Carabobo, especially their respective capitals Mérida, San Cristóbal, Caracas (Chacao) and Valencia, have been affected the most.

Now a word regarding the situation in Mérida. What's been occurring here during the last three weeks borders on the grotesque. According to the government's strategy to avoid at all costs a confrontation with the protesters from the opposition, strict instructions have been given to Mérida's security forces to refrain, if at all possible, from intervening in the protests and to let them 'steam-off' and exhaust by themselves. This strategy has brought as a consequence that groups of opposition rioters have been able to block, unhindered and in their entire length, two vital main roads of the city, Avenida Los Próceres and Avenida Las Américas. The rioters have set up dozens of barricades consisting of burning tires and garbage bags, rain drainage grids torn out from the ground, knocked-over street lampposts, torn-down traffic lights, felled trees, bulky waste, pieces of garden hoses pierced with nails and barbed wire streched across the road, so that getting through with vehicles, be it cars or motorbikes, is absolutely impossible. Nationwide and until now, five motorcyclists have died being torn from their motorbikes by barbed wires. Waste oil poured onto the road is another dangerous factor for motorcyclists, the majority of whom, so it is estimated, are supporters of the government and who have been subject to a heinous smear campaign.    

Entire blocks of appartment houses and neighborhoods have been cut off from traffic and thus from provision with foodstuff and cooking gas; ambulance-, firefighter- and police vehicles don't have any access either. Residents have no other option but to walk, sometimes for miles, to reach the town center. Whoever wants to leave their neighborhood in one piece and also return to their home again unharmed, has to pay a 'fee' to the 'guardians' of the barricades. Who refuses to pay risks being spit at, hit and threatened in the best case, or being thrown at with stones or even shot at in the worst case. (A friend in the appartment block La Trinidad got threatened and spit at, and an acquaintance's friend got shot at in the Cardenal Quintero neighborhood). Friends in La Pedregosa district are reporting up to 100 Bolivares 'fees' residents have to pay in order to leave and get back to their homes; an acquaintance reports having been stopped shortly before the entrance of the Sor Juana Inés Hospital and having been forced to pay 50 Bolívares in order to be able to visit his sick family member.

The picture that is getting apparent meanwhile is the following. The active people operating at the front (an estimated two hundred in Mérida) who have been setting up and 'maintaining' the barricades all over the city on behalf of the opposition, are young men who get specifically payed for that job. Police recently succeeded to arrest one of them, who confessed getting payed for setting up and running the barricades, but who refused to reveal the names of his payers because he feared reprisals. Furthermore, it seems as if the original front activists have been at least partially replaced by ordinary criminals, for whom the construction and maintenance of the barricades as well as the cashing-up of 'transit-fees' has turned out to be a lucrative bargain. At night, the collecting of fees and raids go hand in hand. According to friends who happen to live in these neighborhoods-turned-ghettos, this could be at least one of the reasons why things seem to have been getting out of the opposition's control lately. Fact is, that the whole situation has pushed the Chavistas or supporters of the government for that matter, as well as the majority of the very opposition, to the limits of
their endurance. What drives government supporters to despair in a mixture of fury and impotence is the truly stoic inaction of the security forces, who only intervene in extreme cases and otherwise have to bear getting insulted by demonstrators, thrown at with molotov cocktails and even shot at with hot ammunition by rioters, and who have to stand and watch how a big part of Mérida is being laid to waste. Armed opposition rioters here have attacked and partly destroyed hospitals, institutions of the State like the Ministry of Environment, the transport system, communication infrastructure, supermarkets and even hotels; the main bus terminal in Mérida had to suspend its operations two weeks ago, the same holds true for the entire trolleybus system which transports thousands of Meridenian people daily for free. Public transport had collapsed for some days and has been precarious ever since. Many small businesses in Mérida are closed, partly because the owners have been threatened with the destruction of their shops if they dare open them, and partly because workers and employees haven't been able to reach their workplaces. 

Every day the government-friendly, local radio station YVKE Mundial here in Mérida is being flooded with calls from listeners, amongst them increasingly supporters of the opposition, who literally beg our government and security forces for help because they cannot leave their homes anymore, have to breathe contaminated air day and night, filled with smoke from burning tires and garbage-bags, are deprived of food because most of the small shops in their neighborhoods have run out of products due to the fact that the providers cannot deliver their payloads because of the barricades; and in cases of health emergencies cannot receive help. However, selective permission of transport carrying foodstuff and cooking gas for appartments and shops has been reported from a few residential districts where opposition supporters outweigh. For some time and when the protests had recently begun, the barricade keepers had enjoyed support from opposition members of their neighborhoods in the form of provision of material for the barricades, the supply of food and beverages as well as 'moral' support by neighbors who came out pot-banging at night. This support has decreased considerably in the meantime and what concerns the supply of the barricade-keepers with foodstuffs it seems that this is increasingly being obtained by force, a practice that angers and deactivates opposition supporters. On the side of the government supporters the displeasure is growing because the 'laissez-faire strategy', ironically spoken, is being conceived as betrayal: In the name of the human rights of the opposition rioters (and in the first place fearing the negative international media reporting against Venezuela), nobody dares touch them, but then nobody says a word with regard to the human rights of the thousands of besieged, who are trapped in their own homes. Government supporters have begun to threaten to take things into their own hands if our regional government here proves unable to reestablish the public order.  

Surely, there are many more things to comment about but these lines only intend to sketch the current situation in a condensed way. Still of importance, perhaps, is to mention that the government of Mérida is not entirely standing by idly and watching things happen with folded arms. There have been various efforts to remove the barricades in different districts and to regain the streets in a common operation involving government authorities, security forces and voluntary help from community members; efforts that have only succeeded in part because those involved in the operation not only get thrown at with stones but also shot at with hot ammunition. Many removed barricades are being reassembled shortly after their demolition, as security forces cannot be deployed all over the place to monitor the streets. 

It is also important to point out, that these protests are not a general uprising of the population against the government, but a destabilization effort which does not even count on the support of the whole of the Venezuelan opposition, but in any case on the support of the private, national and international mass media and which, in the last instance, intends to create a spiral of violence which is supposed to result in civil war so as to justify a foreign intervention in Venezuela.