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

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

More Americas News

Embassy Reopenings Top Americans' List in Cuba Talks

Cuba has said it will be linking embassy issue to whether US drops it from State Department's list of sponsors of terrorism
More

Argentina Passes Bill to Revamp Spy Agency After Prosecutor's Death

President Cristina Fernandez says new state security body will be more accountable but government opponents say legislation does little more than change name of spy agency
More

US, Cuba Set for 2nd Round of Talks on Diplomatic Ties

Negotiations in Washington, which follow initial meeting in Havana in January, to include discussion on reopening embassies
More

Obama Defends Immigration Plan

During Town Hall at Spanish language station Telemundo in Miami, US president insists he was within his rights to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation
More

Video Trade, Travel, More at Stake When US-Cuba Talks Resume

Cuban market is small, but it's one that many American companies want access to, observers note
More

Vatican: Pope's Mexico Remark Not Meant to Offend

Expression 'avoiding Mexicanization' was used by Pope Francis in strictly private email reply to Argentinian friend
More