Venezuela: Avila National park set on fire by students protesting Chavez

Opposition students from the Metropolitan University, the Santa María
University, Monte Avila and the Catholic University “Andres Bello”-
all private, fee paying entities – deliberately set alight part of the
Avila national park (Guaraira Repano) on Wednesday. The events were
recorded on video. These acts of unbridled ecological vandalism
occurred during a freeway blocking protest against the proposed
constitutional amendment removing all postulation term limits
contained in the 1999 Bolivarian Constitution.

It took place on the
Avenida Boyacá freeway (Cota Mil) which accesses the main freeway to
Guarenas, a satellite town approximately 15 miles from Caracas. Mind
boggling jams built up as frustrated motorists tried to reach their
work places. Even though it is illegal to block public highways in
Venezuela and prejudice the civil rights of others, the bourgeois
students act in this uncivil manner as a matter of course. There were
no arrests and no injuries on the student side, but 3 Metropolitan
Police officers were injured after being hit by rocks on the head and
in the face. Impunity is widespread in Venezuela which encourages this
kind of criminal behavior. Readers – please note that although the
vast majority of the Venezuelan population is of mixed race (mestizo
in Spanish) one can observe that almost all the students are from
European white stock, who are a minority in the country but form the
largest section of the privileged middle classes. The video was filmed
by the police and played on national television and radio by orders of
President Chavez himself. The question is what does setting fire to a
national park have to do with a street protest for political reasons?
Is it pure mindless vandalism? Are these thugs a future part of the
Venezuelan hierarchy waiting in the wings? As an aside consider the
following social commentary. The Bolivarian movement is soundly
ecologically based and thousands of people from the barrios
participate in “Mission Tree”.

This mission is part of the
participatory ecological policy of the Ministry of the Environment and
encourages mainly young people to collect native seedlings and plant
them in the Guaraira Repano (Avila) national park in the case of
Caracas. The President of the Ecological and Environmental Commission
of the National Assembly, Earle Herrera, will issues citations to the
owners of these private universities to testify before the National
Assembly. These people will have to explain the fire raising acts of
vandalism committed by their students. Those responsible for allowing
protests of students to get out of hand and commit illegal acts – fire
raising, blocking public highways and protesting without a permit –
could be held accountable for being remiss in not applying rules and
regulations to their students, since the protest originated from their
campuses. http://theragblog.blogspot.com/2009/01/south-america-report-protest-under.html

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