Green Room

Students rioting in Venezuela

posted at 10:46 am on December 24, 2010 by

Riot police with water cannons dispersed students protesting the new Higher Education Law passed by the Chavista-controlled lame-duck National Assembly:
Riot police clash with protesters

The law governing universities was approved by the National Assembly on Thursday and students condemned it as an attempt by President Hugo Chavez to clamp down on autonomous state universities that have been a bastion of opposition to his government.

This is a new law, in addition to the Enabling Law and the Organic Laws that the National Assembly passed earlier this month.

Overhaul of universities spurs demonstrations in Venezuela

Lawmakers’ approval in the wee hours of Thursday of a bill overhauling higher education in Venezuela brought supporters and opponents of the law onto the streets of Caracas, where a march by government critics was broken up by authorities.

The universities bill is among a raft of measures passed in the past two weeks by the National Assembly ahead of the Jan. 5 seating of a new congress in which leftist President Hugo Chavez’s party will have a substantially smaller majority.

Hours after the vote, students and faculty opposed to the legislation tried to march from state-funded Central University of Venezuela, or UCV, to nearby Venezuela Square, but were prevented from leaving the campus by security forces.

Units of the Metropolitan Police and National Guard fired pellets and water cannon to break up the protest.

The law was passed at 2:50AM, and contains 111 articles, plus the transitory provisions, which empower the State to regulate several aspects of the university sector, focusing power on the Minister of Higher Education.

At the blogs:
AFP journalist hurt while taking pictures of brutal police repression in Venezuela
Reporters can be scary to Chavez’ National Guard Opressors
As Students Protest in Caracas, Repression Is Ready For Them

Cross-posted at Fausta’s blog.

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Fusta, you might as well wish to publicize

The Law for the Defense of Political Sovereignty and National Self-Determination

The law blocks Venezuelan human rights defenders from receiving international support and severely limits their ability to foster public dialogue with foreign experts who are criticial of Chávez’s policies. Under the law:

Nongovernmental organizations that “defend political rights” or “monitor the performance of public bodies” are barred from receiving any foreign funding.
Foreigners invited to Venezuela by these groups will be summarily expelled from the country if they express opinions that “offend the institutions of state, top officials or attack the exercise of sovereignty.” Organizations that invite them would face stiff fines, and their directors could lose their right to run for public office for up to eight years.


The law on the defence of political sovereignty and national self-determination, which will deprive NGOs of much of their external resources and subject their activities to strict government supervision. This future law, billed as a weapon against “foreign interference,” absurdly assumes that NGOs aim to destabilize the country when they are just exercising civil society oversight and the freedom of assembly. It represents another blow to fundamental constitutional rights and to the 1999 constitution, now betrayed by its promoter.

audiculous on December 24, 2010 at 2:57 PM

I find it interesting that this was done during Venezuela’s Lame Duck session of its legislature:

Further harm results from the adoption of the national sovereignty law that will impose severe restrictions on national and international NGOs. In all, more than a dozen laws are being rush through the outgoing parliament, in which the opposition is not represented, without awaiting the 5 January installation of the new parliament elected on 26 September, which reflects all the current political tendencies.

I guess Hugo didn’t want to waste a crisis, huh?

BigAlSouth on December 26, 2010 at 9:29 AM

Fausta, I don’t comment often, but I want to thank you for your posts on Chavez and Venezuela.

I lived outside of Caracas as a young adult back in the mid 70’s when Venezuela’s future looked to be headed in the right direction. This observation was from the perspective of a 14 year old still learning the language. Business seemed to be opening everywhere with few closing; there were few if any demonstrations and no evidence they were being suppressed; violence and crime were low enough for a 14 year old blond, blue eyed, boy from The States to walk the streets of Caracas in many neighborhoods with less fear than I did in Baltimore, Md at the time.

I know I was living in the bubble of a young teenager with no real responsibilities but to me Caracas and Venezuela were Adventure Land. I played baseball – common ground crossing culture, income and language barriers – with kids from my neighborhood and the small towns nearby and saw similar joy of childhood, hope and adventure in most of them.

I always dreamed of returning with my family when my kids reached a similar age to give them the same adventure and perspective expanding experience.

But then came the parasites which always seem to be drawn eventually when money either shoots out of the ground (oil) or is there for the picking (mining)without serious personal work and investment required. Then FARC, the corruption of drug money, the inevitable corruption of the government and now Chavez.

I dream of the day when the children of those Venezuelan kids I played baseball with all those years ago kick Chavez and his fellow parasites out like the cancer they are and Venezuela and Venezuelan’s get the chance to… I guess just be free to try to make their dreams come true.

This is longer than I intended. I loved the place.

Unquiet on December 27, 2010 at 10:29 AM

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