The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network released the statement below on February 13.
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The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network condemns the recent violent actions instigated by far-right sections of the opposition in various cities across Venezuela.
The first opposition-led protests were initiated on February 4 in the city of San Cristobal, in the western state of Tachira. Two students were arrested for alleged breach of the peace during a demonstration. The students were released the next day.
The next days were marked by an escalation of student protests in the states of Merida and Tachira, with small groups of masked and hooded individuals engaging in acts of violence throughout the capital city. They claimed they were fighting against “crime”.
Their actions included, but were not limited to, blockading roads, throwing rocks at passers-by, attacking the residence of the Tachira state governor, terrorising passengers on public transport, throwing Molotov cocktails and firing live ammunition at the police. They also robbed and tried to assassinate independent journalists who were covering the issue in the Andean states.
February 12 was marked by opposition rallies throughout the country. These coincided with mass demonstrations by revolutionary youth celebrating the “Day of Youth” and the 200th anniversary of the battle of La Victoria during Veneuela's Independence War against Spain.
An opposition rally in Caracas, reported by the opposition-aligned newspaper El Nacional as numbering only 1500, ended with a violent attack on the office of the attorney-general by a small group of masked men who used rocks and Molotov cocktails.
Juan “Juancho” Montoya , a revolutionary and a community leader from Barrio 23 de Enero, as well as Basil De Costa, an opposition student, were fatally shot in the head, reminiscent of the sniper shootings that occurred on April 11th, 2002.
Disturbances look set to continue in the next few days. Authorities have responded by detaining the instigators of violence and there are further attempts by small groups to destabilise the government.
The main leaders and co-ordinators of these recent actions appear to be Villca Fernandez, the national coordinator of the far-right student movement, Liberation; Leopoldo Lopez, the leader of the far-right Popular Will party; and Maria Corina Machado, a deputy in the National Assembly.
They have been calling on the opposition supporters to “take to the streets” in a bidto destabilise and work towards the overthrow the democratically elected government of President Nicolas Maduro.
The international corporate media, in co-ordination with the vast private media in Venezuela, have continued to provide biased reporting on these events. The protesters are being portrayed as “peaceful demonstrators” against a “corrupt and violent repressive regime”.
This tactic has been employed many times before in Venezuela. The most infamous incident was on April 11, 2002 when shootings by snipers on demonstrators justified the coup against former president Hugo Chavez. Chavista “hordes” were blamed for the violence at the time of the failed April 2002 coup attempt.
The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network calls upon all those internationally who value democracy, freedom, justice and peace to support the Bolivarian revolution and the socialist Maduro government in this difficult time of destabilisation and violence.
It also rejects any attempts to incite hatred among the pro-government sections of the population and provoke a violent response to the right-wing’s actions. It also calls on the Australian government to condemn the reactionary violence that has occurred in the last few weeks, just as the Ecuadorian government did on February 12.