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Protests in Venezuela

by AMBER KELLY Photographer

Venezuela, a country on the northern coast of South America, has recently experienced a time of political unrest. Political tensions are nothing new to Venezuela, especially since the socialist regime of Hugo Chavez, a dictatorial leader who was in power from 1999 until his death in March 2013.

Currently in Venezuela, there are a ton of pro-government and anti-government rallies and protests taking place. However, these rallies are not always peaceful, with some ending in injuries and death. In one, a student was run over by a car, and in another, four people ended up dead from bullet wounds.

The current president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, is a member of the United Socialist Party, although there is debate about how deep his political ideology goes. Maduro, prior to attaining the presidency, worked under Chavez, who believed in Bolivarianism, an ideology derived from Marxism and the ideas of the military and political leader Simon Bolivar. While some claim Maduro wishes to roll back some of Chavez’s reforms, others do not see this as happening.

“I’ve never heard of Bolivarianism before. I always just thought of Hugo Chavez as a dictator, not much else. His background included military stuff, so him being a dictator kind of made sense. I don’t know much about Maduro, but hopefully he’s better for the Venezuelan people,” says senior Kendall Marini.

After becoming president, Maduro wanted to target crime, as Venezuela has one of the highest homicide rates in the world. It is an extremely violent place, with approximately one murder every 21 minutes. One big reason for the anti-government protests is the people’s discontent over the violence in Venezuela, as they think not enough is being done. For the people, Maduro’s programs do not seem to be effective.

One of the opposition leaders, Leopoldo Lopez, recently turned himself into the National Guard after giving a speech to his supporters. He believes that Venezuela is an unjust country, and because of his leadership in the opposition, Maduro says he will be properly punished for his crimes, which include holding a protest that left a few people dead.

“I feel like there’s so much unrest in so many countries around the world. Everyday the news is reporting new deaths or protests that have occurred in various places. Whether it’s Venezuela or countries in the Middle East, there seems to be bad stuff happening all the time. I hope the Venezuelan government and the people can come to a resolution,” says senior Vincent Grassi.

After living under the rule of a dictatorial leader for so long, the Venezuelan people do not know how exactly to fix or change their government. While the country has a parliamentary system, the democratic aspect of this system is not being seen. The people are sick and tired of living in an unsafe country, one that also has one of the highest corruption rates in the world.

There does not seem to be compromise on the horizon for Venezuela; however, in order for the country to run efficiently, the opposing groups need to come together and work on creating a government that is acceptable for all of them.

Do you think the anti-government and pro-government factions in Venezuela will be able to compromise anytime soon?

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