Journalists at the Perijanera 95.1 community radio station say that a group of opposition protesters attacked their offices at the headquarters of Corpozulia, the local development organization, in the community of Machiques de Perija on Monday afternoon.
Pedro Gonzalez told the Ministry of Communications that the attackers looted and set on fire several parts of the building, causing extensive damage to the radio’s installations. The attack also damaged a meeting space for the Yukpa Indigenous people, as well as offices of the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples and Fundacomunal, which supports the region’s Community Councils and Food Committees. He said the violence was led by members of two right-wing parties, People’s Will and Justice First, with the backing of local cattle ranchers.
Workers in the offices were sent running for safety as the protesters poured in. The journalist thanked the National Guard for arriving swiftly on the scene and preventing any loss of life.
Gonzalez said that Radio Perijanera is the only media outlet that gives the people of Machiques a chance to voice their ideas and defend Venezuela’s revolutionary process. He pointed out that it was ironic that the right criticizes the government for being a dictatorship and denying freedom of expression, when they are the ones attacking the people’s means of communication.
The mayor of Machiques, Alfonso Toto Marquez, also deplored the attack, which he said threatened the community’s safety and welfare. “Our struggle is peaceful, and without arms”, he added.
Machiques is in the Perija hills in the west of Zulia state, close to the border with Colombia. The region is home to some of Venezuela’s largest Indigenous groups, including the Wayuu and the Yukpa, who for decades have fought to defend their land from encroachments by ranchers and mining interests.