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

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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

US, Cuba Teams Discuss Telecommunications Issues

US delegation visited Cuba this week as the two nations continued efforts to restore diplomatic relations broken over 50 years ago
More

Egyptian Court Adjourns Trial of Al Jazeera Journalists to April 22

Two journalists are charged with aiding a terrorist organization, a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt banned following 2013 army takeover
More

Rio Exhibition Dramatizes Olympian Bay Cleanup Task

Display highlights problem of trash in Guanabara Bay, where sailing, windsurfing events are to take place in next Summer Games
More

Chile Says Drought Permanent, Lays Out Water Plan

President Michelle Bachelet says government will invest in desalinization plants and reservoirs to ensure access to potable water
More

Poll: Venezuelan Leader's Popularity Inches Up to 25%

Rise comes after United States declared Venezuela a security threat and ordered sanctions against seven officials
More

High Winds, Drought Feed Chilean Forest Fires

Blazes have ravaged swaths of China Muerta and Nalca Lolco reserves and Conguillio national park, revered for its ancient forests
More