News / Americas

Jailed Opposition Leader Calls for More Venezuela Protests

Anti-government protesters shout during a protest against Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, March 3, 2014.
Anti-government protesters shout during a protest against Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, March 3, 2014.
Reuters
Jailed Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez urged sympathizers on Monday to maintain street protests against President Nicolas Maduro as the country's foreign minister prepared to meet the United Nations secretary-general.

Lopez, who was arrested on Feb. 18 after helping launch a nationwide protest movement, demanded top officials including the interior minister resign over the use of force against demonstrators in violence that has killed at least 18 people.

"We must continue the peaceful struggle. There is no reason to give up our fight," said Lopez in a message read in a video posted online from an undisclosed location by a party colleague who is also wanted in connection with the unrest.  "They will never defeat those who refuse to give up."

Opposition leaders called for another march on Monday after bringing thousands onto the streets on Sunday, despite the Carnival holiday that usually draws Venezuelans to the beach.

Several thousand people gathered in the well-heeled Las Mercedes district of Caracas and marched to the local office of the Organization of American States.

Protesters in the wealthier east of the capital have clashed nearly every day with National Guard troops in confused melees that generally kick off in the early evening. The demonstrators set up improvised barricades of debris and burning trash that are usually cleared by the next day.

There are no signs that the unrest, which Maduro excoriates as a U.S.-backed coup effort, could overthrow his government or force him to resign, despite widespread discontent with soaring inflation and rampant crime.

Diplomats and Movie Stars

Venezuela's Foreign Minister Elias Jaua, who met on Monday with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Geneva, said the protests were not peaceful demonstrations but rather dangerous and vandalistic disruptions of public order.

"Venezuela's people have been subjected to a continuous attack over the last month that seeks to make the state look like a human rights violator," Jaua said in a speech. "They are trying to paint a picture of generalized chaos and indiscriminate repression to justify a foreign intervention in our internal affairs."

The U.N. said in a statement that Ban expressed hope for reduced tensions and the possibility for dialogue.

The continuing protests have helped motivate the opposition, and even prompted solidarity from Hollywood stars including Jared Leto and Kevin Spacey during Sunday's Academy Awards.

Anti-government street activism during 2002 helped briefly topple socialist leader Hugo Chavez, who died a year ago from cancer, but similar efforts afterwards failed miserably.

A two-month national strike launched that same year which included marches almost every day ended up bolstering Chavez and weakening the opposition.

Protests in 2004 that were nearly identical to those of today helped the government paint its rivals as saboteurs willing to do anything to seize power.

The current protests are facing both natural attrition and criticism from within opposition ranks, especially the tactic of improvised street barricades.

Internal Dissent

One recent video filmed in the central city of Valencia shows opposition sympathizers in a well-to-do neighborhood attempting to clear debris from a road, while exchanging insults with residents who insist on restoring the barrier.

"How many diseases are produced by this?" asks one woman standing in an ash-filled street blocked by wooden pallets and concrete rubble. "If we're going to talk about politics, who voted for this? I didn't."

"What could be more of a dictatorship than what they're doing here?" chimes in a second angry neighbor.

Another woman is seen bleeding from a slash in her forearm, apparently after trying to move metal debris from the barricade.

Maduro sought to take the wind out of the demonstrations by extending the four-day Carnival holiday to six days, though politics has permeated many visits to the beach.

Opposition sympathizers filled social networks with pictures of empty beaches, while state television broadcast footage of festive revelry and traditional costume parades.

Mock tombstones and crosses were set up on a beach in the wealthy eastern town of Lecheria. Local media said they were removed by the pro-Maduro state government, then set up again by opposition stalwarts.

On Sunday night security forces clashed with protesters in Caracas' posh Plaza Altamira, a frequent focus of rock-throwing rallies. National Guard troops, seeking to dissuade the demonstrators, blared Venezuelan folk music for several hours through loudspeakers mounted on a truck.

Cybernauts at the same time lobbied movie stars on Twitter to speak out about the situation at the Oscars, intermingling images of teargas clouds rising from the plaza with shots of Hollywood actors in black-tie garb on the red carpet.

The security response to protests has become the primary motivation for demonstrators, overtaking complaints about Venezuela's ailing economy.

Annual inflation reached 56 percent last year and the central bank's index of product scarcity recently hit a record high, even though the price of oil, the country's main export, has remained in a comfortable range of $100 per barrel.

Maduro decries an "economic war" backed by Washington, but his critics say the situation is the result of a failed system of currency controls and nationalizations that have strangled the private sector and left the economy dependent on dozens of bloated state-run enterprises.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: j from: q
March 04, 2014 10:40 PM
A taxi driver charges one customer.
A bus driver feels that the ride is undercharged.
A taxi driver feels that he should do more to satisfy a customer.
A bus driver feels no difference between pultery, cartons, garbage or passengers on board.
A taxi driver feels money-happy with every door open.
A bus driver feels like an unpaid door man.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Video Dehydration Is Top Killer of Southern Arizona's Migrants

US Border Patrol's search and rescue unit launches 'blue blinking light of life program' - a series of poles strategically placed throughout desert that emit high-intensity blue light
More

United States Steps up Pressure on Guatemala over Labor Rights

Trade representative says Obama administration would push ahead with legal action under free trade agreement to make Guatemala meet international standards
More

Video US Attempts Crackdown on Trafficking Along Southern Border

Nogales, Arizona, notoriously known as 'tunnel city,' used by traffickers to smuggle humans, narcotics into US and Border Patrol responds with new technologies
More

Video Arizona Non-Profit Helps Keep Dehydrated Migrants Alive

The Sonoran Desert, a common crossing point for illegal immigrants, is one of North America's hottest places
More

Colombian National Pleads Guilty to Killing of US Drug Agent

Andres Garcia entered plea of guilty at district court in southeastern state of Virginia; will be sentenced in December
More

Attack on Colombian Police Kills 7

Defense ministry vows to 'maintain and intensify' operations against armed groups, drug traffickers following the attack
More