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

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Cuba Hopes for More Investment as Chinese President Arrives

Chinese President Xi Jinping begins a two-day visit to Cuba on Monday evening
More

Video Addicts’ Safe Haven in Vancouver Helps Control HIV

Supervised-injection facility lowers spread of infection locally, studies show, but has critics
More

Video Shunned by Family, Haitian Orphan Finds Supportive Home

'We deal with [HIV] stigma by ... making life as normal for kids as possible'
More

Spanish Police Arrest Suspected Colombian Crime Lord

40-year-old identified as key member of violent Colombian drug cartel, one of Colombia's most wanted criminals
More

China Provides $4B to Venezuela in Exchange for Oil

Deal inked during a 24-hour visit to Venezuela by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is on a tour of Latin America
More

Attack on Sandinista Supporters Kills 5, Wounds 24

Buses carrying revelers are fired on after leaving rally where Nicaraguan President Manuel Ortega celebrates ouster of dictator 35 years ago
More