EspañolAfter the recent student protests nationwide in Venezuela, Tupamaros (urban guerrillas) didn’t take too long to arrive. This time it was in Mérida state at a student residence. “Armed revolutionary vigilantes” broke in, fired shots, hurt several people, and wrecked and stole from student cars in the parking lot.
For those who don’t live in Venezuela, the Tupamaro Revolutionary Movement (MRT), also known as just Tupamaro, is a nation-scale Chavista organization, although they identify themselves as Marxist-Leninist. However, beyond what they may offer, the Tupamaros are a criminal group that attend opposition rallies to threaten and bully protesters, taking advantage of their tacit state protection.
Over a year has passed now, since an ABC journalist had the opportunity to talk with Alberto “Chino” Carías, chief of the Tupamaros, during Hugo Chávez’s last electoral campaign. When he was asked about the murder of three people during an opposition rally, his answer was “in every war, there is death.”
When the journalist dared to ask him how many dead people does he had on “his list,” Carías cynically replied “I don’t keep count; they say after ten deaths, you don’t feel any type of remorse.”
What’s most concerning is how authorities turn a blind eye when Tupamaros commit their crimes. With a government that protects a group who openly identify themselves with terrorist organizations such as the Revolutionary Movement Túpac Amaru, ETA, and the FARC, what can Venezuelans expect?
In the search for this answer, I had the opportunity to chat with Liliana Guerrero, president of the Federation of University Student Unions, from the University of Los Andes, in Mérida.
“It’s unfortunate what violent groups have been doing, particularly in Mérida state, all citizens from Mérida know who they are. They are people with their faces always masked, showing their guns, and always attacking all kinds of opposition rallies — and of course they attack our student residence in our community. . . . This is what we went through yesterday.”
Regarding the complete negligence of the state towards this group, Guerrero explains: “so far, there hasn’t been any motorcyclist detained; no one is guilty; this always happens; they always have their way, with no detainee.” What’s even worse is that what was shown in the video happened in front of police officers, who didn’t even move to stop these groups from attacking innocent people and destroying private property.
If Tupamaros do not hesitate to intimidate and act violently towards students, with the support of the state, their actions beg the question: what are they afraid of and what is motivating their confrontations?
Guerrero contends that there is a rising mass of people that could overwhelm the “revolution.” The primarily peaceful protests of students have focused on insecurity, inflation, and shortages. These, he explains, are “problems that don’t attach to any color or political party; all of us are going through the same situation. Any Venezuelan that goes to a supermarket won’t be questioned whether he’s from a certain political party or not, to see if they sell him the corn flour or not, it’s just that there isn’t flour for anyone anymore.”