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Violence in Valera as Rosales continues his tour of Venezuela

By Aleksander Boyd

Valera 30.9.2006 | Today we continued on the campaign trail with Manuel Rosales, who was scheduled to visit some of the barrios of Valera, as well as other towns in this state of Trujillo. It was unfortunately a very violent day, as the candidate began his visit of the barrio Cantarrana, a poor sector of the city of Valera.

As we approached Cantarrana, there was a contingent of Chavistas who were reportedly sent there by the Mayor of Valera. I talked to some neighbors afterwards who told me that none of the people responsible for the violence were from Cantarrana, but were instead sent specifically to block Rosales march through the barrio and mthe majority of them were employees of the Mayor’s office.

As we approached the entrance of the barrio; the Chavista contingent realized not only that they were outnumbered by the huge crowd waiting and accompanying Rosales, but it was also clear that there would be violence if they tried anything. The crowd that came out to meet Rosales was simply huge, a few hundred people, compared to maybe 80 for the Chavista group awaiting us. As a precaution, Rosales got on the truck accompanying us as he went by the hecklers and later got off and continued walking. I stayed in the back of the march, trying to help contain any possible violence between the Chavistas and the marchers, some of which were quite annoyed that they had tried to boycott their activity.

In the back of the march, there was a team from TV station Globovision which taped the whole incident as Rosales arrived. Reporter Del Valle Canelon is the one assigned to cover Rosales’ campaign by Globovision and as the march went by, she stayed back to do a “hot report” and broadcast the images back to Caracas. As she began doing this, the Chavistas attacked her and her team, injuring her cameraman Carlos Arroyo, who was hit hard on the head with a board in order to take the tapes away from him. Both tapes were taken by the Chavistas, who also violently threatened Arroyo to give up his camera too, which he resisted. They also tried to take the Globovision truck.

I was a direct witness to the whole thing and I joined a group trying to calm things down between the Chavistas and some neighbors who were upset, my own camera was knocked down and broken.

Reporter Del Valle Canelon was quite shaken and visibly nervous by the violent confrontation, as she became the subject of interviews by other TV and radio stations. Everything was caught on tape and hopefully they can get it to their stations for everyone to see quite soon. It was by far the most violent episode I have faced so far in following Rosales’ campaign and I am still rattled as I write this two hours after it took place.

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