Created: 21 April 2017
Written by RATB
Published on 19 April 2017 by www.venezuelanalysis.com
Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets of the capital Wednesday in massive pro and anti-government rallies marking the country’s independence day.
Thousands of red-clad supporters of President Nicolas Maduro mobilized in four separate marches that culminated in a mass rally along Bolivar Avenue in downtown Caracas.
“I am here to support the Revolution… because I love my country, I’m a Chavista in the flesh and I support Chavez and Maduro, and I want that to be heard in the US, Europe and the rest of the world so they can’t say this is a show, that we don’t have numbers, that we’re paid to be here. No, this is real,” one marcher told Venezuelanalysis.
The pro-government demonstration comes on the heels of a series of statements released by the US State Department and 11 neighboring countries warning the Maduro administration to “ensure the right to peaceful protest”. Caracas has blasted the communiqués as “interventionist”, calling into question the moral and legal authority of Washington and its regional allies to intercede in internal Venezuelan affairs.
Many present at Wednesday’s march likewise expressed their categorical rejection of foreign interference.
“Here we are at the largest anti-imperialist march in Venezuelan history, the US empire has done much harm and we have right-wing opposition sectors that seek the ouster of the legitimately elected government, [but] here we are in the streets, ready to give everything including our lives to prevent US boots from touching our soil,” affirmed Jesus Pinto, national secretary general for the Tupamaros National Revolutionary Movement.
The strong anti-interventionist sentiment has been reflected in a recent poll by independent pollster Hinterlaces, which found that 76 percent of Venezuelans oppose international intervention to remove President Maduro.
Meanwhile, thousands of opposition protesters marched from the Plaza Francia in the wealthy eastern Caracas municipality of Chacao towards the National Ombudsman’s office downtown, despite lacking the necessary permit from El Libertador Mayor Jorge Rodriguez.
The government has consistently denied permission for opposition supporters to march to Caracas' western municipality of El Libertador since a short-lived opposition-led coup in 2002, triggered by an anti-government march diverted towards Miraflores Presidential Palace that left 19 dead by opposition sniper-fire.
The march was called by the right-wing opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) coalition, which has presented the government with a hodgepodge of demands, ranging from holding postponed regional elections and allowing humanitarian aid to removing Supreme Court justices and convening snap presidential elections one year ahead of schedule.
Clashes with authorities later ensued as demonstrators took over the Francisco Fajardo Highway in an effort to reach the more pro-government western section of the capital.
Some opposition supporters called on the international community to aid in securing a “change of government” in the South American country.
“What I want is for today’s march to be forceful so the international community sees that we have to get rid of these people [the Maduro administration] because these people are not going to go peacefully, let the international community force elections so there is a change of government for the wellbeing of the people,” lawyer Carlos Alberto Galeano told VA.
The maximalist demand of forcing early presidential elections has grown increasingly popular among sections of the opposition’s base.
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