Thursday, February 28, 2013

Venezuelan Students Protest Against Government

Approximately thirty-four students have entered are protesting for a third day and have called for transparency regarding the health of President Hugo Chávez.

As seen in the video above, the demonstrators have put up tents and awnings near the offices of the administrative branch of the Venezuelan Supreme Court in Caracas. Some of them are allied to the “Operation Sovereignty” protest group that last week called for Chávez to “show his face” to the public.

“The Venezuelan people are tired of the lies from (vice president) Nicolás Maduro and (Cuba’s ruling) Castro brothers regarding the health of our president,” read part of a statement from the demonstrators that was published on Wednesday.  They threatened that their actions “will continue…until authorities resolve the political crisis” and rejected the possibility that Chávez could be sworn in “behind close doors.” 

Maduro on Thursday referred to the opposition and declared “those traitors will never believe any government report we provide over the health of the president who is fighting very diligently in order to recuperate.”
Chávez is at a Caracas military hospital since February 18 where he is recovering from a cancer surgery he underwent in Cuba last December 11th.  The only public images of the president since that procedure were published nearly two weeks ago and depict him smiling with his daughters.

The protesters also denounced police actions on Tuesday when several demonstrators tried to chain themselves to the gates of the Dirección Ejecutiva de la Magistratura headquarters.  They claimed that at least ten activists were injured by police officers.

The students have received provisions from neighbors and have gotten support from opposition politicos like Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma and congressman Richard Blanco.  Another ally is former Miss Universe Alicia Machado who tweeted, “It’s our right to know the truth. Peace for my country.”

Meanwhile, a coalition of university student leaders created their own political movement that will focus primarily on educational demands.  As mentioned by Federación de Centros Universitarios representative Juan Requesens:
“Our first demand is the increase of scholarships for work and study…to compensate for the recent devaluation (of the national currency).”

He questioned why military recruits could earn a full salary while university students only receive 200 to 400 bolívares.  “Why can’t we enjoy that right?”…

The group also emitted an ultimatum to the government seeking the liberation of imprisoned student activist Antonio Peralte and warned “we will take to the streets campaigning for his freedom.”
Video Source– YouTube via user Marcos Molina Cubas

Online Sources – Noticias24, El Nacional, Venezuela al Dia,, NBC News, El Universal, The Latin Americanist

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