Venezuela Orders Troops Into Border City Amid Fierce Clashes

Paratroopers sent into San Cristobal in the border state of Tachira and an internet blackout imposed, as residents say they are living in a ‘war zone’

Venezuela orders troops into border city amid fierce clashes
Objects placed by opposition protesters block a road in the Altamira neighborhood of Caracas, Venezuela

Venezuela orders troops into border city amid fierce clashes (Telegraph, Feb 21, 2014):

President Nicolas Maduro has ordered paratroopers into the restive Venezuelan border city of San Cristobal amid fierce clashes between government forces and opposition protesters, as the leftist leader warned the US to stay out of the country’s growing unrest.

The battalion was rushed in on Thursday night to “restore order” in San Cristobal, where Mr Maduro has threatened to impose martial law to quell the protests that began in the city two weeks ago and have since spread nationwide, claiming the lives of at least six people.

Venezuela, home to the world’s largest proven oil reserves, has been rocked by sometimes violent protests and rallies in the capital Caracas and other cities by government opponents angry at rampant inflation, chronic food shortages and one of the world’s highest murder rates.

While the protests are strongest in middle class areas, they have sporadically spread to poorer neighbourhoods which are traditionally aligned with the Socialist government.

In San Cristobal an internet blackout has been imposed, keeping it largely off Venezuelan screens. But residents say they are living in a “war zone”, with the town fully occupied by the army and military helicopters and planes flying overhead.

Local reporters have told of siege-like scenes with gunfire and tear gas emanating from regular street battles between protesters and security forces. Demonstrators are blocking roads with burning barricades and most business are shuttered, with few other residents venturing out from their homes. Some say they have lost electricity and running water.

The operation is being led personally by Miguel Rodriguez Torres, the country’s interior minister.

The deployment came as the government angrily rejected US calls for dialogue to resolve the protests which have further destabilised the deeply polarised nation.

Mr Maduro’s government said it “emphatically repudiates” remarks by Barack Obama, accusing the US president of “a new and crude interference in the internal affairs of our country.” The leftist leader also threatened to expel CNN from the country, claiming they were engaging in a “propaganda war” against his government.

Mr Obama had previously urged dialogue and called on Mr Maduro to release detained protesters and address the “legitimate grievances” of the Venezuelan people.

On Sunday, Mr Maduro ordered the expulsion of three US diplomats, accusing them of meeting student leaders to conspire in what the government claims is an opposition coup plot. Washington has denied the allegations.

The government has jailed Leopoldo Lopez, the opposition figure who has emerged as the hardline leader of “The Exit” protest movement – a reference to Mr Maduro’s departure from power.

It has accused him of orchestrating violence as part of a plot to overthrow the government, a claim he denies.

Both sides blame each other for the bloodshed.

The government says sharpshooters are appearing on the opposition side and radicals are seeking to create chaos by smashing property, attacking police and blocking highways.

Meanwhile the protesters accuse Mr Maduro of worsening repression. They say police are firing shots, allowing armed pro-government gangs to attack the protesters and mistreating some detainees.

On Friday Mr Lopez urged protesters not to give up. In a note from the military prison of Ramo Verde released through his wife, he said: “To the police, soldiers, prosecutors and judges: do not obey unjust orders, do not become the face of repression.

“To the youth, to the protesters, I ask you to stay firm against violence, and to stay organised and disciplined. This is everyone’s struggle.”

The 42-year-old Harvard-educated economist has been charged with instigating violence, property damage and criminal association – but not homicide, as had been threatened.

Henrique Capriles, the moderate opposition leader and 2013 presidential candidate who has kept a low profile during the protests, challenged Mr Maduro to prove his claims that the demonstrations were part of a conspiracy to overthrow his government.

“Is this a coup or an auto-coup?” he asked. “The only one who has talked about a coup d’etat has been the government. It is a fabrication by government actors,” he said.

3 thoughts on “Venezuela Orders Troops Into Border City Amid Fierce Clashes

  1. Harvard….hmmm…US Gov sponsorship….hmmm…..CIA training….hmmm….even a simple soul can work out the connections here.
    Is the US trying to destabilise EVERY country?
    Is this some smoke screen to cover up the bankster corruption which pre-empts the economic collapse?

  2. Squodgy is very close to the truth. I have come to the conclusion these awful people have a world government in mind with them in power. People need to wake up. A world government will never work, look at Ancient Rome, Napoleon, and Hitler…….Tribal warfare will always supersede a national government.
    If these idiots are so well educated, why don’t they read history?

  3. Psychopaths don’t see the world like normal people. Power hungry, greedy, wackos don’t even live the same way we do. They have no sense of reality. They have no value for us. All of them should have to get a real job and try to survive without their money for a year, but that is not going to happen. I think we might need a revolution. Our complicity has let them Pied Piper us to where we are today, there is always something to distract us and get the masses to fallow along. We have been played and with our heads in the sand (or up our butts) most did not see it. I think many are starting to now but it maybe to late. In the beginning we might have been able to vote our way out but now it may take much more. This is a hard ship that many are not ready for, but on this path will also very hard. Without the “Press” the people can’t even prepare. The internet has helped many see the truth, but it has also confused many. We have been lied to for so long about so many issues from young children in school to our death bed, it has been a little bit everywhere. The story has become so complicated, that to hear the truth is like the whole world crumbing is around them. As with any house of cards this is what happens. Our founding fathers told us to be vigilant and we left it up to the “Press” to do our job. Now we have to be responsible for the mess. The longer we wait the more damage there will be.

    Life is hard.

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