Opposition Venezuelan Mayors Announce They Will Permit Peaceful Protests

Opposition Venezuelan Mayors Announce They Will Permit Peaceful Protests

CARACAS – Eight opposition mayors in Venezuela announced Thursday that they will continue allowing peaceful protests in their cities despite the fact that the Supreme Court ordered them to prevent demonstrators from blocking traffic during the marches that have been staged nationwide for almost the past two months.

“While we are the mayors of our municipalities, we’re going to protect and defend the right to peaceful protest and political demonstrations. … We’re going to safeguard the full exercise of civil and political rights,” said the mayor of the capital municipality of Chacao, Ramon Muchacho, at a press conference with his other seven colleagues.

The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered eight opposition mayors to clear any obstacles to traffic flow set up by demonstrators during protests being held in their cities.

The high court allowed the filing of eight lawsuits for protection from traffic disruption brought by residents of the municipalities of Baruta, Chacao, El Hatillo, Los Salias and Carrizal in central Miranda state, and the towns of Libertador, Alberto Adriani and Campo Elias in western Merida state.

Muchacho said that the high court order attempts to “block the sun with a finger,” given that it implies that the protests are only being staged in the cited municipalities.

“The entire Venezuelan people in all the country’s states are fighting, this is not a phenomenon (unique to) Chacao, Baruta or … middle class municipalities,” the mayor said.

Meanwhile, Libertador Mayor Carlos Garcia said that he will not “repress or attack” the public during the protests and reiterated that he will “protect” them.

Baruta Mayor Gerardo Blyde said that neither he nor his colleagues are “afraid” in the face of what they consider to be a “pseudo-ruling” by the high court, which also warned on Wednesday that if its order is not complied with the mayors could go to prison.

Blyde said that his attorneys will file motions as a result of the ruling, although he warned that if an arrest warrant is issued for him, he will comply with it.

“The magistrates, I and my mayoral colleagues know that all that will be useless if the arrest warrant is issued … They have the de facto power to do it,” he said.

He insisted that Venezuelans must continue with their struggle out in the streets to achieve their demands.

“There’s no prison that can deal with this, there’s no threat that can deal with this,” he added.

In addition to Muchacho, Blyde and Garcia, the Supreme Court decision affects El Hatillo Mayor David Smolansky, as well as the mayors of Los Salias (Josy Fernandez), Carrizal (Jose Luis Rodriguez), El Vigia (Juan Peña) and Campo Elias (Omar Lares).

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