News / Americas

Venezuela Unrest Leaves 23 Dead

An anti-government protester tries to set fire to a barricade while up against the police's water cannon during clashes in Caracas, March 12, 2014.
An anti-government protester tries to set fire to a barricade while up against the police's water cannon during clashes in Caracas, March 12, 2014.
Protesters battled soldiers in the streets of Caracas again on Wednesday as a student was shot dead, the 23rd fatality from a month of demonstrations against Venezuela's socialist government.
Thousands of supporters and foes of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro were on the capital's streets for rival rallies marking a month since the first bloodshed of the recent unrest around the South American OPEC nation.
Trouble began when National Guard troops blocked opposition marchers trying to break out of Plaza Venezuela to reach the state ombudsman's office.
Students threw stones and petrol bombs while security forces fired tear gas and turned water cannons on them.
Witnesses saw dozens of people leaving injured.
In the latest fatality, a 23-year-old student was shot in central Carabobo state, apparently on a street outside his home. Opposition activists blamed armed government supporters in what they say is a wave of attacks on students, but the state governor said the shot came from snipers among the protesters.
Maduro, a 51-year-old former bus driver who won election last year to succeed the late Hugo Chavez, has declared victory over what he calls an attempted “coup” against him and appears to be in little danger of being toppled.
Students, though, are vowing to keep the protests going, meaning protracted instability could bring more bloodshed and represent a further drag on Venezuela's troubled economy.
Victims on both sides
On Feb. 12, two opposition supporters and a pro-government activist were shot dead in Caracas, galvanizing the fledgling protest movement and leading to near daily clashes in Caracas and some western Andean cities like San Cristobal and Merida.
The 23 people killed include victims on both sides.     
“The opposition are causing all the violence. They should think a bit smarter. The street barricades make no sense, they just bring violence,” said government supporter Marcos Alacayo, 46, among hundreds of Chavistas at a square in east Caracas.
“They're trying to make out the nation is in a bad state, but that just isn't true. More people have access to healthcare, education and good food than ever. That's what they don't understand. Before Chavez, no one had what we have now,” added Alacayo, who works for a state-run higher education program.
Of the more than 1,300 people arrested since anti-government demonstrations began at the start of February, 92 are still behind bars, according to the government.
Those held include 14 security officials, some of whom are implicated in the deaths of two of those shot in the Feb. 12 rallies. More than 300 people have been injured in the unrest.
“Today we're marching to denounce the repression. There can't be impunity. Why do they attack us when we are demonstrating freely? The security forces are bowing to a political ideology when their duty is to protect the people,” said law student Agnly Veliz, 22, at the opposition rally.
Veliz said she was at the fateful Feb. 12 rally and has been protesting every day since then. “What's the point of graduating while the country is in chaos? If I lose the year but help to achieve a better Venezuela, then it's worth it.”
Complaint list
Although their movement is smaller than those in Brazil, Ukraine and the Middle East, the protesters in Venezuela share a similarly amorphous list of grievances and causes.
Some want Maduro out now. All complain about crime, inflation and shortages of basic goods. Demands to free detainees, especially hardline opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, have become an increasingly loud cry on the streets.
The protests have wrong-footed the moderate leadership of Venezuela's opposition coalition, including two-time presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, who lost to Maduro by just 1.5 percentage points in last year's vote.
His strategy had been to work patiently in grassroots communities while waiting for the next electoral opportunity, parliamentary elections in 2015, but now firebrand opposition leaders and students are taking the lead.
Fellow Latin American nations, though deeply worried, have taken a relatively low-key approach to Venezuela's crisis.
Leftist allies have backed Maduro's right to defend himself against “coup plotters” while more conservative governments have urged dialogue but in moderate terms.
Maduro broke diplomatic ties with Panama after it pushed for a meeting of the Organization of American States to discuss Venezuela. Caracas views the OAS as a U.S. pawn.
Foreign ministers from South America's Unasur group of governments were meeting in Chile on Wednesday to discuss Venezuela.
“We'll be in favor of protecting and promoting human rights, but at the same time we can't accept violent mobilizations that seek to bring down a legitimately constituted government,” Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Munoz told reporters.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Venezuela's neighbors should take the lead in helping mediate the situation, and rejected Maduro's repeated accusations that Washington was deliberately stirring up trouble against him.
“We've become an excuse. We're a card they play,” Kerry told a U.S. House of Representatives committee when asked about Venezuela. “And I regret that, because we've very much opened up and reached out in an effort to say, 'it doesn't have to be this way'.”
Oil exports, which provide 95 percent of Venezuela's revenues, remain unaffected by the crisis.

You May Like

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

Report: US to Sail Warships Near Disputed S. China Sea Islands

Move will signal nonrecognition of Chinese territorial claims over area, Financial Times reports, citing senior US official More

Study Describes Ancient Deltas, Lakes on Mars

Research builds on recent NASA announcement that water flows on red planet today More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanoni
John Owens
October 08, 2015 7:32 PM
Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

US to Publish Records on Chile 1976 Assassination

Orlando Letelier was killed, along with his American co-worker Ronni Moffitt, by a car bomb in the center of Washington

US official: Ending Cuba Embargo Will Take Time

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker wraps up visit to communist-ruled island saying both sides need to learn more about each other as they work to improve relations

Missing Cargo Ship’s Recorder Sought for Clues

Officials say El Faro's voyage data recorder, similar to 'black box' on aircraft, would provide a wealth of data on what befell the ship and the 33 people aboard

UN Rights Chief Calls on Mexico to Broaden Missing Students Probe

In yet unsolved case, 43 students vanished in September of last year in southern city of Iguala after clash with police

El Niño Brings Welcome Rains to Chile's Farmers, Ski Resorts

August, September have both seen higher amounts of rain than average for the Southern Hemisphere spring

Brazil's Rousseff Suffers New Setback Over Austerity

President failed to get enough support in Congress Wednesday for her efforts to rebalance country's overdrawn public accounts