News / Americas

Venezuela Protests Reveal Deep Divide

Venezuela Protests Reveal Deep Dividei
X
February 27, 2014 5:57 AM
Venezuela's largest protests since the death of longtime leader Hugo Chavez nearly one year ago are sweeping the country. As VOA's Mark Snowiss reports, rampant inflation, violent crime and chronic shortages of basic goods are fueling the outrage that is dividing the country.
Venezuela Protests Reveal Deep Divide
Venezuela's largest protests since the death of longtime leader Hugo Chavez nearly one year ago are sweeping the country. Rampant inflation, violent crime and chronic shortages of basic goods are fueling the outrage that is dividing the South American nation.
 
The country's main political opposition coalition on Wednesday refused to attend crisis talks called by the government in an attempt to halt the nearly three weeks of protests that have left 14 people dead.
 
President Nicolas Maduro had called a "national peace conference," but the main political opposition coalition denounced the planned talks as an insult to the slain protesters.
 
The most prominent opposition leader, Henrique Capriles, had earlier said he would not attend, dismissing the talks as a government photo op.
 
Divided country
 
Venezuela today is a divided country, with so-called Chavista supporters of President Nicolas Maduro on one side and an increasingly broad anti-government movement on the other.
 
Anti-government protesters hurled rocks in the northern city of Valencia Wednesday as police fired back with rubber bullets. In the capital, Caracas, Venezuelan women took to the streets to rally against Maduro while pro-government farmers protested in largely peaceful rival rallies.
 
"As we all know, young people here have an uncertain future and we are simply protesting against that uncertainty that Venezuelans live with every day, [protesting] like we did yesterday, and like we will do tomorrow and the day after, demonstrating in the streets," said Juan Quintana, a student demonstrator.
 
Polling data going back to 2012 reveal that Venezuelans have experienced a considerable drop in their quality of life, according to Gerver Torres, a Latin America specialist with Gallup.
 
"If you see the numbers, the economic indicators, the social indicators, the state of infrastructure in Venezuela, it's very easy to come to the conclusion that people have many different reasons to be on the street. You would be surprised if they were not there," Torres said.
 
Largely fueling the anger is a litany of problems in a country with the world's largest oil reserves. Basic goods like milk and toilet paper run chronically short. Violent crime is an ever-present menace.
 
The oil industry, which accounts for 95 percent of Venezuela's exports, is a shadow of its former self, Torres said.
 
Nonetheless, Mark Weisbrot, who co-directs the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, contends that Venezuela's opposition can't win at the ballot box so they are driving up support with protests.
 
He acknowledged the demonstrators have "some legitimacy" based on the country's myriad of problems.
 
"But that's not what this movement is about because the people who have those grievances and the ones that are in the streets for [them] are not leading the movement. Their leaders are in a power struggle. The demands of the protests are [simply] for the president to step down," Weisbrot said.

Mark Snowiss

Mark Snowiss is a Washington D.C.-based multimedia reporter.  He has written and edited for various media outlets including Pacifica and NPR affiliates in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @msnowiss and on Google Plus

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Venezuela Says Will Push OPEC Until Oil Reaches $100

Saudi Arabia blocked calls from poorer members of the OPEC oil exporter group for production cuts at a meeting in Vienna
More

Mexican Leader Announces Nationwide Crime Crackdown

Announcement comes as 11 mutilated bodies found in violence-racked Guerrero state
More

Soccer Icon Pele Moved to Special Care Unit

Legendary soccer player's personal aide says Pele, who is suffering a urinary tract infection, is 'completely fine,' move was primarily to protect his privacy
More

Venezuela’s Military Introduces Hugo Chavez Course

Fans say it promotes late leader’s humanist values; critics deride it as deification
More

Video Talks on New UN Climate Treaty Set Next Week in Peru

Representatives from 200 countries will discuss emissions reductions, setting stage for broader talks in 2015
More

Colombia's FARC Free Two Soldiers to Restart Talks

Troops taken captive in restive eastern department of Arauca in November 9 military operation freed with help of ICRC
More