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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

Program gives street kids not only food and safety, but a chance for a better life without crossing US border
More

US Senate Kills Immigration Bill, House to Vote Friday

Earlier Thursday, Republican-led chamber abandoned plans to vote on $659 million bill that addresses influx of more than 57,000 unaccompanied Central American children
More

Argentina Defaults Again on Debt

Negotiators failed late Wednesday to reach an agreement with New York investment companies to avert the default
More

Cameroon’s Coffee Farmers Blame Government for Production Drops

Cameroon's growers, dealers and experts mourn declines in a nation that once ranked 12th in the world.
More

Argentina, US Creditors Fail to Reach Deal; Default Imminent

This will mark the second time in 13 years Argentina has defaulted on its debt
More

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Officials grapple with ways to deal with problem, provide shelter for thousands of minors among illegal border crossers
More