Right-wing opposition supporters took to the streets of Caracas and other cities in Venezuela on Saturday in ongoing violent protests against the government as fears mount of a possible repeat of the February 2014 Guarimbas opposition-led riots which left 43 people dead.
Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami said that Saturday’s march was “illegal and unconstitutional” adding that the protesters were “seeking a provocation that will lead to violence.”
El Aissami also criticized what he termed "international bullying" against Venezuela, which he said has "triggered a psychological and media war against the national constitution, the government and its people."
In particular, El Aissami accused opposition leader Henrique Capriles, of inciting violence in the protests. On Friday, Capriles was banned from running for office for 15 years for misappropriating government funds for personal and political use.
Although Saturday's march began peacefully, groups of protesters threw missiles, including homemade Molotov cocktails, and blocked major roads. Not too far away, Chavistas gathered for a celebration on Avenida Bolivar, branding it a “government of the street.” Many sang and danced in the presence of a handful of United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) leaders while denouncing continued right-wing aggressions against the government.
Government leaders were quick to respond to the opposition violence via the airwaves. PSUV politician Jorge Rodriguez described recent events in Venezuela as a "brutal and sustained aggression against the Venezuelan people."
"We are in the presence of a historical tragedy. The right-wing leadership has no notion of ethics, morality, not even the homeland or sovereignty, which are very elementary, and absolutely necessary," he said, warning that opposition efforts to provoke international intervention into Venezuelan affairs run the risk of damaging the entire country.
Since Tuesday, anti-government demonstrators have been attacking National Guard and police officers with sticks, rocks and trash cans in the socialist country’s capital. The riots were organized in protest against a recent decision by the Supreme Court to temporarily assume some responsibilities of the National Assembly as long as the legislature continued to be “in contempt” of the constitution, a ruling that was eventually overturned. Even though Venezuela’s top court has since reversed the decision, the right-wing opposition continues to incite violence, echoing mainstream media claims of a “self-coup.”
Venezuela’s National Assembly still remains in contempt of the country’s consumption. On Jan. 5, 2016, the Supreme Court had ruled the assembly was in contempt because three opposition members were sworn in, despite being temporarily suspended for voting irregularities.
If the National Assembly were to remove the three lawmakers, it could easily resolve its current legal status, but instead still continues to be in contempt.
On Wednesday, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez blasted the Organization of American States for supporting right-wing violence and perpetuating the “self-coup” myth. Rodriguez said the OAS has an agenda intended to “interfere in the internal affairs of states."
The large protests blocked off major streets and fires were lit in on highways, with protesters shown taunting and throwing rocks at police officers.
Large armored vehicles were used by security forces to keep back protesters and checkpoints were set up across the Caracas and 17 metro stations were closed.
Media outlet VTV, who were covering the protests with a video team, were also attacked by a group of protestors.
Meanwhile, pro-government supporters rallied in downtown Caracas and played music and had sporting competitions.
The recent opposition violence has resembled the infamous right-wing Guarimbas protests which blockaded streets in February 2014 in an attempt to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro.