CARACAS, Thursday May 08, 2014 | Update
PROTESTS IN VENEZUELA | The operation was launched at 3:00 am

Venezuelan gov't dismantles dissenters' "freedom camps" in east Caracas

Sources said 243 youth were detained. More than 900 officers of the Bolivarian National Police (PNB) and the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) at 3:00 am on Thursday stormed four protest camps dissenting students had set up some weeks ago

Aerial view of the Francisco de Miranda Avenue after the protest camp outside the UN offices in Caracas was dismantled (AP-Reuters)
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Thursday May 08, 2014  09:27 AM
Around 3:00 am on Thursday, officers of the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) and the Bolivarian National Police (PNB) evicted the protest camps set up by dissenting students for several weeks in Alfredo Sadel Square in Las Mercedes (southeast Caracas), Bolívar Square in Chacao (northeast Caracas), Santa Fe (southeast Caracas) and at the HP Tower, at Francisco de Miranda Avenue (northeast Caracas) where the offices of the United Nations in Venezuela are headquartered.

The tents were swept away and dozens of students were detained and taken to Fort Tiuna military base, southwest Caracas, and the headquarters of the National Bolivarian Police in Catia, northwest Caracas, according to reports posted on the camps' Twitter accounts.

"Very few young people were able to escape the onslaught. The detainees were taken, some to the headquarters of the National Bolivarian Police in Catia (northwest Caracas) and others to Tiuna Fort (southwest Caracas,)" said lawyer and human rights activist Elenis Rodríguez in a telephone interview with El Universal.

Meanwhile, Minister of the Interior and Justice Miguel Rodríguez Torres reported that 243 students were detained in this simultaneous operation launched by the GNB and GNP. "They seized drugs, weapons, explosives, mortars, tear gas, everything they use every day to face the security forces."

"The operation began at 3:00 am. We designed a plan to dismantle these camps, as we found evidence that these sites were the base of the most violent groups engaged in terrorist actions, such as the burning of Metrobus cabins and police patrols, as well as clashes with law enforcement officers while carrying weapons and Molotov cocktails," Rodríguez explained.

He added that four protest camps were raided and dismantled in Caracas. "In Santa Fe, the operation was performed by the People's Guard in a clean way. People were detained. At the Francisco de Miranda Avenue, the camp with the highest number of tents, the Bolivarian National Guard conducted the surprise operation, led by commander of the GNB Justo Noguera. At the Alfredo Sadel Square, the actions were conducted by the National Guard, and at the Bolívar Square in Chacao, the camp was dismantled by the National Bolivarian Police (PNB)."

He noted that the 243 detainees were brought to the National Guard's Regional Command 5. "There, they will be classified and brought to the Public Ministry and courts to close this chapter of violence."

Additionally, the mayor of Chacao Municipality, Ramón Muchacho, informed via his Twitter account that the operation was performed around 3:30 am. "Some 700 officers of the GNB evicted the camp at the HP Tower, while 200 PNB officers conducted the operation at the Bolívar Square."
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