Several members of La Piedrita, the armed communist gang from 23 de enero which has been attacking opposition figures and institutions for the past week, deployed on motorcycles into Las Mercedes this afternoon, some of them openly brandishing large-caliber semi-automatic pistols as they shouted pro-Chavez slogans at pedestrians and drivers.
La Piedrita’s action was deliberate. The group’s leaders and strategists intended to probe civilian security defenses and response times in Las Mercedes, which forms part of PoliBaruta’s jurisdiction and borders PoliChacao’s jurisdiction. If street violence escalates in Caracas over the coming weeks and months, La Piedrita will be one of the armed pro-Chavez gangs attacking opposition targets all over the city. It’s likely that “soft” targets – eg unnamed civilians waiting at bus stops or street crossings – also could be shot at randomly by two-person teams of gunmen riding motorcycles.
PoliBaruta and PoliChacao reacted immediately. Dozens of Baruta and Chacao cops, weapons drawn, cocked and safeties switched off, stopped La Piedrita’s thugs cold and arrested all of them in a joint operation. There was no doubt among the passersby who witnessed the dramatic scene that any resistance by the armed thug bikers who call themselves “defenders” of President Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution would have been snuffed lethally in seconds.
However, one dramatic victory of good over evil does not make a trend. La Piedrita was probing Las Mercedes, a district packed with stores, restaurants and nightclubs frequented by middle- and upper-class Venezuelans. The group’s leader claims his men and women are well-trained and disciplined. The bikers may have been under explicit orders to probe Las Mercedes but offer no resistance to any official response.
The Chavez government’s response is predictable. The Attorney General will move immediately to obtain the release of La Piedrita’s thugs. The National Assembly will condemn the abuses of PoliBaruta and PoliChacao, and likely will launch an “investigation” to determine the “truth.” And the government will insist the “truth” is that La Piedrita’s bikers were just out for a group ride with their girl friends in Las Mercedes when the fascist opposition cops busted them for no reason. Expect condemnations of the police who did their jobs prosennionally, and with no bloodshed, from President Chavez and Libertador Mayor Jorge Rodriguez, whose words and actions are dictated by El Comandante, like the puppet boy Pinocchio dancing at the end of the strings held by Geppeto the puppetmaster.
PoliCaracas polices the Libertador District. The force works for Rodriguez, and before that for Freddy Bernal. Its officers don’t bother La Piedrita or the other armed civilian groups based in “Chavez Land” – western Caracas. The Metropolitan Police doesn’t mess with the armed “chavista” groups either. So the armed thugs feel strong, protected. They threaten chaos and death against the president’s many critics. But their stated determination to sacrifice their lives in defense of the revolution has not been tested at all yet. We believe it very likely that the coming months will produce situations in which armed clashes involving the revolution’s street thugs and security forces will erupt in areas ruled by the opposition.
La Piedrita may indeed prove to be a formidable force in a street fight, but today La Piedrita got bitch-slapped by real cops.