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.
Reuters
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

Ukraine President Appeals for More US Support

Speaking before Congress ahead of meeting with President Obama, Petro Poroshenko urges lawmakers to back Ukraine in its quest for freedom and democracy More

Photogallery Global Audience Watches as Scots Go to the Polls

People were almost equally divided over a vote for independence, watched closely by Britain's allies, investors and restive regions at home and abroad More

China to Invest $20 billion In India Amid Border Dispute

Border spat between armies of two countries in Himalayas underlines mutual tensions despite growing commercial ties highlighted by Xi Jinping's high profile visit More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
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 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.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


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

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

Chronically Hungry Numbers Decline

Three U.N. agencies have released the State of Food Security in the World report
More

UN: Enforced Disappearances Continue Unabated Globally

UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances says more than 43,000 cases from 88 countries still remain to be clarified
More

Hurricane Odile Weakens, Still a Threat to Mexico

Odile could drench Baja California with as much as 46 centimeters of rain by Friday
More

Powerful Hurricane Threatens Mexico's Baja California

US forecasters have downgraded Odile to strong Category 3 storm, with top sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour
More