News / Americas

Venezuela Protests Spawn 'Tear Gas Art' Competition

A protester with a Guy Fawkes mask, painted with the Venezuelan flag colors, carries a doll with a tear gas canister during a march in Caracas April 15, 2014.
A protester with a Guy Fawkes mask, painted with the Venezuelan flag colors, carries a doll with a tear gas canister during a march in Caracas April 15, 2014.
Reuters
Tear gas canisters fired by the thousands on the streets of Caracas are being transformed into sculptures in a competition seeking to give an artistic twist to this year's anti-government unrest in Venezuela.
 
The opposition-governed Chacao district, a hotbed of violent clashes between masked protesters and security forces in the capital, is inviting locals to submit creations by the end of this month based on spent canisters found on the streets.
 
“This initiative seeks to convert instruments of repression into a tool of peaceful protest,” reads the council's invitation, which has a photo of a pink flower poking out of a canister.
 
“This is a symbol of the response of the Chacao municipality's residents to the disproportionate and inhumane acts of repression that have happened in our streets at the hands of the state security forces,” the invitation said.
 
Each district in Caracas is governed by a mayor with considerable autonomy in the day-to-day running of affairs.
 
Rights groups and opponents of President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government say National Guard troops used excessive force to quell three months of near-daily protests that began in February.
 
Officials, though, say the demonstrations were cover for a U.S.-backed coup plot. They insist that security forces showed great restraint in the face of hooded protesters hurling rocks and gasoline bombs, and sometimes including gunmen.
 
At least 42 people died and nearly 900 were hurt in the violence around the protests, with victims on both sides.
 
Although the violence has died down, some hardliners are still taking to the streets sporadically. Opponents say the root causes - economic hardship and repression - remain unresolved.
 
Security forces fired scores of gas canisters night after night when demonstrators began stoning them or refused to vacate blocked streets.
 
Art competition organizer Diego Scharifker said the wealthy Chacao district's council had collected about 200 canisters. Students have been displaying hundreds more on the streets.
 
“The project's idea is one of transformation. These are things created to make you cry,” Ricardo Benaim, a 64-year-old Venezuelan artist who plans to submit an angel crafted from canisters, said in an interview last week. “... Angels are the guardians of hope,” he said.
 
Political art became commonplace across Venezuela during the 1998-2013 rule of the late Hugo Chavez.
 
Walls across the country are emblazoned with murals glorifying him, Argentina's revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro and other Latin American leftist icons.
 
In response to the recent protests, government supporters have begun depicting doves on walls with the Spanish slogan: “Pintale una paloma a la guarimba.” The phrase translates literally as “Paint a dove at the protests” but also, in local slang, means: “Stick one finger up at the protests."

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
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.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Republican Candidates Focus on Immigration Ahead of First Debate

Fourteen of 17 major Republican contenders took part in forum ahead of party's first official debate; Donald Trump did not participate
More

Venezuela Prevents Opposition Leader From Running

Election officials reject Maria Corina Machado's attempt to register as a candidate Monday for upcoming congressional elections
More

Mexico City Mayor Vows Full Probe of Journalist Slaying

Journalist groups had expressed fears authorities would not consider Ruben Espinosa's murder as being related to his work, even though colleagues say he fled state he covered fearing for his safety
More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession
More

Brazilian Police Arrest Lula Minister in Bribery Scandal

Jose Dirceu is one of most senior members of ruling Workers' Party to be detained so far in corruption scandal engulfing state-run oil company Petrobras
More

Poll: Disapproval of Chile's Bachelet Hits Record High

Chileans have soured on president as slow economic growth and scandals involving money in politics have marred her message of addressing deep inequality
More