prostests in venezuela (feb2014) explained for dummies

In February 14′ there were being held some prostests in Venezuela. These were really active for some couple of days and they have now silent a bit. It’s probably a bit late to post this, but it might help someone in the future so I’m sharing it anyhow. I might have gotten some historical facts wrong, so don’t hesitate to correct me with a comment if that’s the case. Also, if you’re an ignorant in the topic, don’t content yourself with the info found only in this essay — care to search for more info anywhere else.


There was a time in which Venezuela was a very rich country due to its oil production. It was a country that welcomed foreign people and the gap between the poor and rich wasn’t as big as today. There was barely hatred towards anybody. That lasted, summarizing, until the 70’s, maybe 80’s. By then the gap between the rich and the poor had grown a lot. The rich didn’t care about the poor, why would they? They just ignored them. Hate started to be noticed in people’s lives.

This is when Chavez comes in. He won the elections legally and took over the government. He spent a lot of money on programs to help the poor. Actually, some of these programs helped, of which some of them continue to do so. Some other programs were not good but they managed to make them seem otherwise. The government made a lot of money not be reinvested and be lost in pockets of state officials as a result of corruption.

The government and its programs got popular thanks to a huge amount of propaganda. This constant propaganda was usually transmitted by national broadcast. Chavez would also speak for hours every week and he was very charismatic. Little by little, he won the people’s trust.

He then changed the Constitution (with a referendum) and afterwards approved a law that allowed him to make laws without them having to be approved by the National Congress. So basically, anything he said became the law.
Again, little by little he also started to take over the other state powers (judiciary, legislature and executive powers, the press and communications), sometimes by referendums and other times by creating laws that allowed him directly or indirectly choose whoever he wanted to do whatever he wanted.
So the separation of the State’s powers was merely fictional from then on. That’s why (usually) state officials won’t suffer any consequences when doing something illegal.

Chavez’s speeches were always anti-capitalist and anti-rich and middle class. He would be very aggressive at times and hate started to grow even more in everybody’s hearts, making the gap between the poor and rich even bigger.

He, the now all-mighty president, started to expropriate and take over many companies (some companies were being unproductive, but many others were not). This was obviously seen by his supporters as something good since many of the expropriated companies gave them jobs. However, it drove a lot of companies and investors away from the country.

Most of these companies are currently either abandoned or very unproductive.
These expropriations and the whole giving away thousands of millions of $US to other lefties governments are two of the main reasons for the horrible nowadays condition of the economy.
Other reasons of the current situation of the economy are the currency controls since 2003, after a coup d’etat against Chavez that kept him away from power for only two  days and a huge national strike including PDVSA (the national and 20th biggest oil company worldwide) which lasted a couple of months in 2002.
As a result these days, inflation rates are incredibly high and the price of the dollar in the black market (the type of dollar one can truly acquire) is almost 10 times the official price. In addition to all this, a shortage of basic needs and commodities (such as oil, butter, milk, chicken, beef, flour, coffee, sugar and toilet paper among many others) has emerged, for which; of course, the government blames the capitalist opposition.

Something else very important to consider is the media restrictions, since Chavez took over most of the media so it would support the government. He used the National Broadcast to override all national TV channels and radio stations that went against the government.

In 2007 RCTV broadcasting license expired. RCTV was a TV channel that was against the government and had been accused of helping in the putsch in 2002, so the government decided not to renew its license.
Ever since, the restrictions on the media have gone to worse to the point that they won’t transmit any news that will give even a slightly bad image of the government. The only TV channel that dared still do so was Globovisión, for which it faced constant legal actions and fines. And so, the channel ended up being sold to a business man who was affiliated to the government in 2013.
The mainstream media doesn’t currently transmit any information that might harm the government.

Regarding insecurity; this is one of the main issues in Venezuela. It was constantly ignored as a problem by the government until a few years ago when it became way too big and important to be ignored. The take of action against insecurity started with the emergence of a new police entity called the National Bolivarian Police. Its effectiveness has been doubtful.

Insecurity is still a really big issue since many people keep dying by gunshots every day, just like  kidnappings and hijackings occur all over the country every day. For you to make an idea of how bad this issue really is, in Venezuela more people were killed due to insecurity in 2013 (24,763) than in the war in Iraq (9,472) [data source: http://IraqBodyCount.org%5D.
Additionally, there are the ‘Colectivos‘ which are organized armed civilians who support the government. They control areas of certain ‘barrios‘ and they’re heavily armed. The police have no jurisdiction over the areas these colectivos control.
The main concern is that it is well-known that if given a request from the government, these groups won’t hesitate to act with violence.

There is a lot more to talk about, such as the awful situation of prisons, as well as both cultural and social aspects involved in all of these, but none as important as the aforementioned.

After Chavez’s death in 2013, a chance of government change was possible since the opponent leader Henrique Capriles rapidly gaining popularity. Nicolas Maduro however, managed to exploit Chavez’s disease, death and project in order to obtain the people’s sympathy, for he was “the son of Chavez” as Chavez himself named him his successor just before his passing away.

Finally, Maduro won the election 50.61% to 49.12%. The results were questioned by the opposition which claimed they had won. Nonetheless, Maduro continued in power. His government has been criticized by both opposition and Chavez’s supporters; however he remains solidly in power and has tried to follow Chavez’s line.

In early February 2014, some university students from Mérida were captured and were being held by local police officers for supposedly being responsible for violent acts.

This last February 12th 2014 was National Youth Day, a holiday in Venezuela that honors young people and students who helped win a battle during the Independence War against Spain back in 1814. This was the day chosen for nation-wide demonstrations to demand the release of these detained students and to protest peacefully against the current situation of the country that has caused a general discomfort.

In Caracas, the State capital, there were two demonstrations, one for the government and the other against it.

These demonstrations were mostly attended by students and happened in many main cities of the country. In Caracas these were pretty crowded and they marched towards “Fiscalía” (the Prosecutor’s Office) to require an answer for the events in Mérida.
To promote violence was never the intention of the demonstration, but to be seen and for everyone to know that there are people against this government.

Nevertheless, just by the time they were leaving, an armed group appeared and started to shoot and cause panic among the demonstrators. This armed group is known as the ‘Colectivo Tupamaros‘.
Consequently, this commotion ended up with public damage, cars burned, three deaths and many injured. However the media didn’t cover anything about this. In order to know what was really going on you were forced to consult other sources such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp or SMS texts. There was only one international channel that could be watched from Venezuela that was transmitting what was going on (ntn24.com). After a while it was taken down and shut off from transmission.
So once again you had to turn to social networks, specially Twitter, to know what was going on in your own country since the press wasn’t transmitting any of it.

 Another Venezuelan opposition leader called Leopoldo López was accused by the government of conspiracy and murder after the violent events that had occurred. Hence an order to capture him was issued against him. Nonetheless, he gave himself to the troops of the National Guard on Tuesday.

Up until February 22nd 2014, protests have ended up with 8 dead, more than 200 injured and 190 detained. Other exaggerated measures have taken place these days such as limited access to the internet, warrant-less search of private property, live ammunition against unarmed protesters, implementation of martial law (imposition of military power over designated regions), violations of press freedom and the already mentioned detention without trial.


 

(Opinion)

The government says that the Venezuelan opposition is killing government supporters with firearms. Well, this little video clip will show a different picture. It was a brave photographer who took the pictures, because even after the guards discovered him and started shooting at him, he kept on filming. The protagonists in the video clip are National Guards, elected to PROTECT citizens, not to kill or injure them.
This happened in the city of Valencia, a city about 150 km south of Caracas, and whom you observe are seen blasting parked cars with their guns and breaking the windows for no reason whatsoever, getting the kicks out of their deeds (watch the broad smiles on their faces and how they enjoy shooting at the crowds from their hidden-away corners) are uniformed national guards.
Their fire is not responded by the crowds, simply because the latter do not have any guns and also because 90% are high school and university students. I have more of these videos taken by amateurs. In one of them you can see how they kill a student in a central part of Caracas at gunpoint.
These national guard-gorillas really enjoy their activity as butchers! Will people abroad finally understand what we have been going through for the last 15 years and that democracy in Venezuela is fake? I do not know how long the protests will last, but one thing is for sure: if the opposition gives in now or gives up the fight, the repression from the government will be absolutely unspeakable and unheard of. The fight has to continue until the end which can only be one: the Cuban-lead communist regime has to go once and for all.

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