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

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Spanish Warrants Point to Russian Govt. Links to Organized Crime

    Links to several Russians, some of them reputedly close Putin associates, backed by ‘very strong evidence,’ Spanish judge says

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    Iraq needs stable, central government to push back against Islamic State, US says, but others warn that Baghdad may not have unified front any time soon

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    More Americas News

    Smog Stays Bad; Mexico City Extends Traffic Cutback

    40 percent of cars and trucks are being ordered to stay off the streets Thursday

    US-Led Tourism Boom Has Cuba Hustling to Keep Up

    Influx of visitors has pushed capacity to the limit, prompting hotels to sharply increase prices

    Brazilian Senator Backs Impeachment Trial for Rousseff

    Senator Antonio Anastasia tells panel of lawmakers that charges against president are serious enough to remove her from office

    Poll: Approval of Venezuelan Leader Drops as Crisis Bites

    Just over one in four Venezuelans approves of President Nicolas Maduro's governance as crippling economic problems weigh on leftist leader

    Brazil Lawmakers Propose Bill to Shield WhatsApp

    Draft law forbids authorities from blocking popular messaging applications, just two days after judicial order left 100 million Brazilians without access to platform

    Residents Flee as Wildfire Threatens Canadian Oil Sands City

    More than 80,000 people evacuate as flames move into the city, destroying whole neighborhoods