Venezuelan Protests against President Nicolas Maduro
Venezuelan national police officers clashed with protesters in a rally against President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas. Protesters took to the street after the Supreme Court ruled in a decision that allowed the Venezuelan President to attain more power in the government because it stripped congress with its legislative power.
Although the Venezuelan Supreme Court quickly reversed its decision, that still did not stop protesters from going to the streets and holding signs that read “no more dictatorship” and “I am the National Assembly”, according to the Washington Post. The police and the National Guard showed up a little while after the demonstrations started. The New York Times reports that “the National Guard and the national police arrived about an hour after the demonstration began, firing tear gas into the throngs and deployed trucks mounted with water cannons.” According to Ramón Muchacho, the mayor of Chacao, “armed pro-government gangs harassed protesters and shot one person in the leg. At least eight others were hurt”, Muchacho told reporters.
Despite all the risk and violence, the protest was a chance for individuals to renew grievances against the Venezuelan government. According to the New York Times, the government had a deficiency in food and basic welfare, and the Venezuelan economy “contracted and estimated 10 percent last year, leaving shortages of basic foods and medicines.” The bad management of the government is largely blamed on President Maduro, and citizens are starting to feel the consequences. The Washington Post reports, “Maria Auxiliadora Soler, an 80-year-old protester, said this has been a terrible year as she searches for blood-pressure medicine. She now relies on pills that family and friends buy for her on trips abroad.” The healthcare deficiency is definitely affecting all citizens, especially for Jose Noguera and his family. Jose is a university student whose grandfather died last year because he could not find treatment for his cancer. In regards to the protest, Jose stated, “I hope this time people will actually stay in the streets until we see a real change.”
As citizens took to the streets, tensions between the government police and the people began to rise. 41-year-old vendor Arquimedes Orce took to the streets yelling at ranks of armed security forces. Orce told The New York Times, “the people are hungry and you guys are hungry and understand” as well as “you are against the people.” In addition, protests are bleeding into the personal lives of innocent citizens. Mary Santiago, a 60-year-old accountant frustrated with the government, stated, “I’m tired of being scared, almost every month I get robbed, and I can’t stand it anymore.”
The situation in Venezuela has come to international light, with Mexico taking an interest in the protest. According to Reuters, “Mexico’s government on Sunday condemned the acts of violence that have taken place in Venezuela in recent days, which damaged public buildings and the offices of banned opposition leader Henrique Capriles.” Mexico is expressing growing concern over the conflict in Venezuela. The Foreign Affairs Ministry released a statement about the protest stating, “Mexico calls on all parties to refrain from resorting to violence or provocation and resolve their differences through peaceful means”. Mexico’s position on the matter shows concern for Venezuela and is beginning to assert itself against the government of Venezuela and President Maduro.