News / Americas

From Music to Nudity, Venezuela Protesters Get Creative

Anti-government protesters kiss during protest against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro's government, Caracas, March 22, 2014.
Anti-government protesters kiss during protest against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro's government, Caracas, March 22, 2014.
Reuters
Venezuelan students are putting mock gravestones in the streets, setting up “resistance” camps and even stripping off in a plethora of new tactics to counter dwindling support for a three-month protest movement against President Nicolas Maduro.

“Lately, the protests haven't been working so well. People are starting to get tired and bored,” said Eliana Mora, a 25-year-old student at the Catholic Andres Bello University.

She has joined scores of others posting nude photos online in solidarity with one protester who was beaten and paraded naked during violent clashes on a university campus.

“This is a different way to motivate them and make them do something else,” added Mora, who posted her photo with the words “Better naked than without freedom of expression.”

The new tactics aim to give the protest movement broader appeal and contrast with the images of violence, petrol bombs and tear gas that had come to define the unrest.

Anti-government demonstrations began in February at universities in the country's western state of Tachira and snowballed after opposition politicians jumped on the bandwagon.

At least 41 people have since been killed in the violence, with victims on both sides.

Complaining about inflation, crime and police abuse, the student protesters are clamoring for change in Venezuela, with some calling for the socialist Maduro to resign just over a year since he won power after the death of Hugo Chavez.

However, with disparate leadership, their methods and objectives have become muddied and their numbers have fallen.

A hard core remains on the streets, burning tires and manning roadblocks, but many have opted to stay home.

Maduro appears safe in his presidency.

Creativity

Trying to reverse the waning intensity of their protests, some activists are shunning traditional street confrontation for more emotive tactics. They have been going out before dawn to plant mock crosses, coffins and gravestones on prominent avenues to symbolize Venezuela's homicide victims.

Others perform songs and drama in the street.

“I love my country but Venezuelans would rather go to the beach ... they just don't care,” complained Andrea Lacoste, 24,  who wrote a protest ballad “Song without color” whose opening lyrics lament Venezuelans' “disinterest and insensibility.”

At a conventional opposition march on Saturday in Caracas, just two people turned up on time at the starting point. Numbers swelled later to a couple of thousand — small by Venezuelan standards — and few political leaders were present.

“You won't see a lot of people today,” said David Rodriguez, 20, studying mechanical engineering at the Simon Bolivar University in Caracas. “The student movement is divided and several universities didn't support the rally.”

Fractures within the opposition student movement mirror those of their political elders who for 15 years have failed to unseat the socialist government amid infighting.

The unrest of the last three months has revived those old divisions, fracturing the upper echelons of the opposition leadership between hardliners who egg on the protesters and moderates worried that radical street tactics play into government hands.

Among numerous student leaders, Juan Requesens and Carlos Vargas, both in their early 20s, have emerged as big players.

Both organize rallies, marches and assemblies in university lecture theaters nearly every day, often simultaneously.

Requesens is politically aligned with Henrique Capriles, the moderate opposition leader who lost the two presidential elections, first against Chavez and then against Maduro.

Vargas is more radical and claims no political affiliation, though is closer in policy to hardline politicians such as Leopoldo Lopez, who is behind bars accused of inciting unrest.

Opposing camps

In one colorful illustration of fragmentation among students, two opposing “resistance” camps have sprung up about a kilometer away from each other in eastern Caracas.

Outside a U.N. office, more than 100 tents block a main road, equipped with food and medical facilities as well as security guards. “We want a U.N. commission to come and see the human rights abuses here,” said Francia Cacique, 24, stood at the entrance to her own tent.

Down the road, protesters at a smaller camp oppose outside intervention.

“This is a Venezuelan problem that must be solved by Venezuelans,” said Geraldine Falcon, 25, who manages the camp.

There are also a significant number of students who are not opposed to Maduro. There are many pro-government groups in Venezuela's universities and they are similarly disparate. Some fight with rivals while others hold civilized debate.

Jose Luis Borjas, 24, who runs one of two pro-government groups at the Simon Bolivar University in Caracas, said the protests were not part of a spontaneous, organic movement.

“There are political interests behind all this,” he said.

Though Maduro appears safely in control, the core group of protesters is showing no signs of going away.

Yon Goicoechea, who led large student protests in Caracas in 2007 but lives in Spain now, said the current movement does have some advantages, particularly its online dexterity and the fact Maduro is a weaker target than the charismatic Chavez was.

“Seven years ago there wasn't so much social media available. That's the main difference,” he said. “The other difference is that Hugo Chavez is dead.”

You May Like

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Tour Will Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

US secretary of state to visit 5 countries in the Middle East, South Asia in bid to strengthen economic and security ties, ease concerns over deal with Tehran More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Venezuela Troops Occupy Polar Food Distribution Warehouses

Move follows months of accusations by President Nicolas Maduro that Polar, country's largest private employer, working to sabotage the economy
More

Brazil Nuclear Leader's Arrest May Stymie Atomic Ambitions

Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva arrested Tuesday for allegedly taking 4.5 million reais in bribes from engineering firms working on long-delayed Angra 3 power plant
More

Chileans Spooked by Crime, Demand Government Action

Hundreds took to streets of affluent Santiago neighborhoods Wednesday to protest what they say is explosion in crime in one of South America's safest nations
More

Bright Colors, Patterns Prevail at Colombiamoda Fashion Shows

Designers and brands show off a plethora of creations on catwalks in Medellin this week
More

Report: Rio's Filthy Waters Far From Ready for Olympics

An AP investigation found extremely high levels of viruses and bacteria from human sewage in Olympic and Paralympic venues for swimming and boating
More

Peru Forces Raid Coca Region Rebel Slave Camp

Special forces rescue 26 children, 13 women, some of whom had been held captive for three decades, when they raided jungle camp of Shining Path rebels
More