General Angel Vivas became a hero of the opposition in his country in 2007 when he resigned as head of the engineering department at Venezuela’s Defense Ministry rather than order his subalterns to swear to the Cuban-inspired oath “Fatherland, socialism or death.”
A constant thorn in the side of the Chavez and now Maduro governments, Vivas reported via social media during the height of Venezuela’s violence Sunday that he was surrounded by government forces supported by Cuban soldiers, but that he wasn’t going down without a fight.
One of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s most outspoken critics has become the latest rally cry for opposition protesters after engaging in an armed standoff with security forces Sunday.
Retired army Gen. Angel Vivas sported a flak jacket, assault rifle and handgun as he defiantly addressed dozens of neighbors from the balcony of his home in eastern Caracas.
“I’m not going to surrender,” the 57-year-old Vivas yelled to a crowd of cheering followers.
Supporters rushed to Vivas’ defense after he announced to his 100,000-plus followers on Twitter that a group of “Cuban and Venezuelan henchmen” had come looking for him. The officers withdrew after the crowd built barricades outside Vivas’ house. Vivas’ lawyer said they didn’t have an arrest order.
Esbirros cubanos y venezolanos junto a grupos criminales están llegando a mi casa.
— Angel Vivas (@Gral_Vivas_P) February 23, 2014
After encountering an armed Vivas and his supporters, government forces melted away.
Vivas continues to use his Twitter account to wage a social media campaign against the Maduro government, posting pictures of those killed and injured by government forces, photos of government aligned paramilitaries attacking protesters, and those of protesters burning Cuban flags.
Venezuelans do not have a general right to bear arms. Citizens are not allowed to centerfire rifles, or handguns of any kind. Civilians are only authorized to own .22 rifles and shotguns, and they are heavily regulated.
These restriction does not apply to government paramilitary forces, or the Marxist irregulars of the Tupamaros, whom the government allows to have “illegal” guns as long as they use them to terrorize opposition forces.
When the government has all the effective weapons, and the citizenry is restricted from having firearms of military utility, patriots like General Vivas ignore those laws to preserve their unalienable rights.