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  HOME | Who's Who in Venezuela

Ron, Lina

The spread of "Bolivarian Circles" has led to the emergence of a number of popular leaders.

Among them is Lina Ron of the People's Power Network, who has taken to the streets to defend the Chavez regime.

Ron, whose supporters call her "Commander", is renowned for having set fire to the US flag in Bolivar Square in Caracas just days after the 11 September 2001 attacks.

When she was briefly detained in November 2002 for confronting an anti-Chavez student demonstration, the president defended Ron as "a soldier who deserves the respect of all Venezuelans".

However, when the opposition first marched to the National Electoral Council to hand in a petition calling for a referendum on the president's rule, she was blamed by the government for instigating violent protests by government supporters.

The president himself later admitted she had become "uncontrollable".

In February 2004, Ms Ron launched the Venezuelan People's Unity party which, she said, is made up of "radicals, hardliners and men and women of violence".

The new party has a role to play in defence of the government, Ron says, following a drive by the opposition to gather the signatures of 20% of the electorate to trigger a recall referendum on the president's rule.

"What is coming is not an electoral contest. What is coming is an electoral battle," the dyed-in-the-wool Chavez supporter said.

"If someone tells me that the signatures are valid and that Chavez is going to be recalled from power, we will be unable to accept that.

"Whatever the result there's going to be conflict here," Ms Ron said at the meeting held to celebrate the party's creation.


 

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