Venezuelan protesters digging in for the long haul
posted at 7:21 pm on March 10, 2014 by Erika Johnsen
It’s been about a month since groups of thousands of Venezuelan students ignited protests in cities across Venezuela over the country’s ever-deteriorating crime scene and economic instability, and while it sounds like the protesters and government forces have settled into a kind of stasis-mode, there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight. Venezuelans gather, march, build barricades, etcetera; the regime’s police forces aggressively and sometimes violently push them to disperse — and meanwhile, Venezuela’s rampant political and economic problems are no closer to solutions.
Hundreds of National Guardsmen in riot gear and armoured vehicles prevented an “empty pots march” from reaching Venezuela’s food ministry on Saturday to protest against chronic food shortages. …
Later on Saturday, several hundred student protesters trying to block streets with barricades skirmished with riot police who fired tear gas in the wealthy Caracas district of Chacao, in what has become a near daily ritual. …
Earlier, more than 5,000 protesters banged pots, blew horns and whistles and carried banners in the capital to decry crippling inflation and shortages of basics including flour, milk and toilet paper. Similar protests were held in at least five other cities. …
“There’s nothing to buy. You can only buy what the government lets enter the country because everything is imported. There’s no beef. There’s no chicken,” said Zoraida Carrillo, a 50-year-old marcher in Caracas.
Even the celebrations for the one-year anniversary of Chavez’s death last week didn’t do much to deter the protesters, and if Maduro’s ideas for action are in a holding pattern, so are his public excuses about the reasons behind the systemic economic and crime problems: Hey, all of the violence from these protests is being instigated by nefarious imperial and opposition sources! We had nothing to do with any of it, it’s all a plot backed by the United States! Rabble rabble rabble!
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden calls Venezuela’s situation alarming in remarks published Sunday, suggesting its government is using “armed vigilantes” against peaceful protesters and accusing it of “concocting false and outlandish conspiracy theories” about the United States. …
“The situation in Venezuela reminds me of previous eras, when strongmen governed through violence and oppression; and human rights, hyperinflation, scarcity, and grinding poverty wrought havoc on the people of the hemisphere,” Biden told El Mercurio. …
Despite a growing body of evidence to the contrary, Maduro on Sunday denied that armed paramilitary supporters of the government have employed violence against protesters.
“The only violent armed groups in the street are those of the right,” he told the crowd.
In a statement issued by the presidency, Maduro also accused the opposition was “receiving financing from the United States” to undermine “a solid democracy that has had the popular backing in 18 elections over 15 years.” He offered no evidence.
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