ESPACIO PUBLICITARIO
CARACAS, Saturday December 24, 2011 | Update
 
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Violent attacks against the UCV

Violence with greater love

Central University of Venezuela has been the target of 24 violent attacks over the past three years by hooded men; complaints have been filed with the Attorney General Office with no successful outcomes

Hooded men set fire to a pair of vehicles property of the university president and the vice-president on November 15, 2011; while they shot and hurled explosives at the President’s Office (Handout Photo: UCV)
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FRANCISCO OLIVARES |  EL UNIVERSAL
Saturday December 24, 2011  12:00 AM


Between 2009 and November 16, 2011; university authorities of the Central University of Venezuela have denounced at the Scientific, Criminal and Forensic Investigation Agency (known for its acronym, Cicpc) and the Attorney General Office, 24 case files of attacks and aggressions against the university, students and authorities. From all of them, only the murder of student Pedro Trejo was investigated and solved in court .

In the rest of the case files, the Cicpc answered to the call of the authorities and held an inquest, but none of them offered a plain result which revealed the perpetrators of the attacks.

Out of the 24 violent events recorded at the UCV, on 11 occasions there were shots fired by the attackers who made use of firearms such as FAL riffles, submachine guns and 9 mm pistols. Some of those actions were recorded on the security cameras of the UCV. On seven occasions, attackers made use of tear gas against university authorities, workers and students. On 11 occasions, vehicles from authorities and student representatives were burned. Seven arson attacks were perpetrated in school facilities of the campus, especially against the President's Office and the FCU (student union). Hand-thrown explosives were used in 13 attacks and most of them have been aimed to the President's Office of the UCV, to be more accurate: 10 violent attempts in total.

Such attacks resulted in irreversible damages to the historical patrimony of the university, material loss of goods, and left university authorities and students either injured or wounded.

Although no criminal investigation identified accurately the authors of such violent attacks, the evidence collected from each one of the actions points to extreme groups which operate at the UCV and have links with the government. However, when these violent groups attack by using weapons and explosives, they act under the guise of anonymity, making use of hoods. The denunciations made by university authorities do not appoint either specific people or any group in particular; instead, they just have asked that investigations of the events are pursued.

Pro-government groups

At least four pro-government groups operate at the UCV. The most well-known is M-28, a group that arose out of the raid on the University Council in March 2011 and stood out because of the violence perpetrated by this group and the indiscriminate use of tear gas, which use - as everyone knows - is limited only to security bodies. On that opportunity, full support was thrown behind them by President Hugo Chávez's Administration.

There is another group, which has used the acronym PIE and it is closely related to Minister of Sports Héctor Rodríguez.

Patria y Universidad (Homeland and University) is a group led by Kevin Ávila. This student was supported by the very president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez when he was expelled from the institution for committing acts of aggression against university authorities. Lastly, there is Alma Mater, with a lower profile.

Note that some of these groups have ties with some other groups which have stood out because of their violent actions such as collective La Piedrita. On certain occasions, people who do not belong to the UCV community have been seen acting in company with pro-government groups.

Interestingly, none of these factors have counted on the student support and the very government has shown concern over the limited successes they have attained in comparison to democratic organizations. For instance, in the recent elections Patria y Universidad just obtained a small proportion of 500 votes compared to the winner with more than 11,780 votes.

The government has spent millions of bolivars in these groups, without political success.

What they are looking for

Historically speaking, the hard-core leftwing has always operated at the UCV, by violent means and very often without relying on democratic instruments.

However, during the democratic period its struggle was aimed to fighting the governments in office and defending the university's autonomy. With such ideals, their actions took place in the street, aimed against state-run security organisms and with an act of sabotage once in a while on electoral processes. In those incidents some organizations would be involved, such as Ruptura, Comité de Luchas Populares, Liga Socialista, Qué Hacer and some others which remained from the armed struggle that had demobilized.

The successors of such ideology face a conundrum because they have links with the government. Many of those leaders of the hard-core leftwing nowadays either are ministers or occupy high-level positions in the government.

Some days ago, a leader of M-28 group expressed that the UCV as a "state inside the State" could not be tolerated any more, thus embracing one of the objectives most longed for by Chávez's Administration, which consists of diminishing the university autonomy.

At the moment of analyzing the 23 violent actions against the UCV, it was discovered that most of them have been against the authorities and the FCU and to stop actions of protest on behalf of the UCV, landing on the Government's side; in fewer words, taking sides with the historical enemies of the hard-core leftwing.

A very remarkable action happened on May 22, when a group of hooded men making use of firearms stormed into the Faculty of Political and Legal Sciences. The hooded men entered the school shooting and hurling tear gas canisters, spreading panic among students.

A complaint was filed at the higher public prosecutor's office by Doris Márquez and recorded under the number 531-2009. Although videos were presented and bullets were collected in the area by Cicpc officials, the public prosecutor's office never provided answers on the authors of the violent attacks.

In the burning of the vehicles previously mentioned, note that they belonged to university authorities and/or students of the UCV or supplied some kind of service to the university.

On November 15, 2011, a group of hooded men used hand-thrown explosives against the President's Office and set fire to two vehicles which belonged to the university president and the academic vice-president.

Translated by Adrián Valera Villani

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