Thursday, February 21, 2013

Venezuela: Students Want President to “Show His Face” (UPDATED)

A group of Venezuelan student protesters have urged President Hugo Chávez to make a public appearance after he reportedly returned to his homeland this week.

“Just like we urged him to return to Venezuela, today we ask him to show his face,” declared student activist Gabriela Arellano this afternoon.

Arellano threatened that if this demand isn’t met then the students will march to the Caracas military hospital where Chávez is said to be staying in “to see if he’s doing well and is capable to govern.”

Arellano, who is a member of the “Operation Sovereignty” protest group, also called on college students to demonstrate at their respective campuses on Monday and call for a new presidential election in case Chávez is to sick to lead the country.

At the same press conference, student protest leader José Vicente Garcia accused Vice President Nicolás Maduro and congressional chief Diosdado Cabello with "wanting to keep" the government.

The Venezuelan government has not shown any images or video of Chávez since he purportedly returned from Cuba early Monday morning.  The president had been in Cuba for seventy days to undergo cancer surgery and treatment.

As we previously mentioned, student demonstrators who had chained themselves at the Cuban embassy in Caracas ended their actions on Monday afternoon. 

We demand respect for our sovereignty. We don't want any more Cuban meddling in Venezuela's affairs,” said Arellano last week while she accompanied about two dozen other “Operation Sovereignty” members.

According to, several government officials criticized the protest at the Cuban embassy and tried to downplay any effect this may have had on Chávez’ supposed return:
Youth minister Mary Pili Hernandez said that the student protest outside the Cuban embassy was “carried out by a tiny group, manipulated by foreign interests”… 
Vice-president Nicolas Maduro claimed that the opposition governor of Miranda state, Henrique Capriles, was responsible for the “threat” on the Cuban embassy, because it is located in his jurisdiction. 
Communication minister Ernesto Villegas referred to the protest as a “picnic” and said the idea that it has influenced Chavez’s return to Venezuela was “out of proportion”.
Yesterday the Venezuelan foreign ministry blasted a U.S. State Department spokeswoman for suggesting that free and fair elections should be held if Chávez is too incapacitated to govern.

Update: According to the Venezuelan government Chávez continues to have respiratory problems after his operation more than two months ago.

"The breathing insufficiency that emerged post-operation persists, and the tendency has not been favorable, so it is still being treated," said Information Minister Ernesto Villegas who read the statement on state TV.
"The patient remains in communication with relatives and the government political group in close collaboration with the medical work group," the statement also mentioned. 

Video Source– YouTube via user n24fuenteno

Online Sources including Update -, The Latin Americanist, Milenio, ABC News, GlobalPost, Huffington Post

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