...in another stunning show of the Venezuelan opposition's democratic credentials...
Tamara Pearson - Venezuelanalysis.com
Mérida, January 9, 2009 (venezuelanalysis.com)-- Over 40 United Socialist Party (PSUV) supporters have been injured by members of the opposition during the swearing in of the newly elected governor of Tachira state, according to national assembly member, Iris Varela.
Cesar Perez Vivas, who was also the general secretary of COPEI, Venezuela’s main Christian democratic party, recently won the governorship in the regional elections of November 23 of last year with 49% of the vote. Various supporters and a range of national governors including the new opposition mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, attended the ceremony, which took place in the main plaza of the state capital.
Varela called for protection for the workers in the social missions who have lately been attacked by opposition groups and announced that the National Assembly will start an investigation into the aggressions in Tachira.
Immediately after the ceremony in the main plaza, the opposition group beat up people identified as pro-Chavez. The outgoing governor, Ronaldo Blanco was escorted by the National Guard to his vehicle, to protect him from attacks. One 65 year-old woman was stripped of her t-shirt which had a pro-amendment slogan on it, and her other clothing and the opposition members tried to undress 10 other female Barrio Adentro health mission workers.
The opposition members also threw large rocks, homemade explosives and other blunt objects. One witness said they wanted “to burn Chavismo and they wanted to burn more than 60 people who were in the bus.” The bus had taken Chavistas to the event to support the outgoing governor.
The legislator Ligia Montoya received bruises on her head from a shovel and legislators Nayibert Lugo and Jonathan Garcia received bruises on their arms and legs caused by impacts with shovels and bars. Others received a range of lesions, bruises, and some internal injuries. Six vehicles were also damaged.
The opposition group then headed for the legislative building of Tachira, “the Palace of Lions,” where they tried to knock down the doors of the judicial office and were blocked by the National Guard.
However, the general secretary of the new state government has rejected the denunciations that were made, saying “It’s true that there were skirmishes, we won’t deny it, because there was provocation… in a formal event like that the outgoing governor and all the legislators came dressed in red with their insignias of the [United Socialist Party] PSUV, disrespecting the solemnity of the event.”
Speaking at a press conference this morning, Freddy Bernal, vice president of the PSUV for the Andean region (Tachira, Merida and Trujillo states) complained of the lack of coverage by national and regional media.
Bernal said the events on Wednesday “are indicative of the character of the government of Cesar Perez Viva, who in his discourse called for unity and conciliation, the fascist gangs who supported him for election in Tachira state assaulted members of the PSUV indiscriminately and wildly.”