SOS Venezuela: A fight for human rights

Carlos Font, Staff Writer

   “Mom I went to fight for Venezuela, if I don’t come back, I left with her.”

   What has been going on in Venezuela the past month? According to Andreina Nash millions of college students took action on February 12, 2014, the day of the youth in Venezuela, and protested because of the social-economic crisis that the country is living in. Most attribute the crisis to Venezuela’s illegitimate government. Students, daily facing uncertainty and insecurity, have finally taken action.

    What is this uncertainty in Venezuela? Well, a major factor in the unrest is violence. According to The Violence Observatory of Venezuela, close to 25,000 homicides occurred in only one year in a population of less than 30 million people. The worst part about the homicide rate is that more than 90 percent of these crimes go unpunished and, in the majority of cases, there is not a single arrest or even an investigation.

   Outraged at the reality of their nation and its government, students marched peacefully in major cities like Caracas, Valencia, Mérida, San Cristobal and Puerto Ordaz. However, the peaceful manifestations turned violent when the Venezuelan military forces showed up and started to act hostile against the student protestors.

   What led these peaceful protests to violence? One main cause was the military’s forceful treatment of unarmed students. There is little to no information about how many students have died in the manifestations. We do know, though, that in the first three days of demonstrations, three students were assassinated. The students were Bassil Alejandro Dasilva, Robert Redman and Neyder Arellano Sierra who all died from gunshot related injuries. These students are viewed as heroes, fighters for Venezuela’s freedom. In addition, many more protesters were injured in the days followed, as well as arrested. Witnesses have stated that the students that get captured and thrown into jail are being tortured and beaten.

   The second cause of resistance in Venezuela is the government’s control of all channels of communication in the country, including TV and radio stations. Stations who have exposed the corruption in the Venezuelan government were special targets of censorship. Major foreign stations that were covering the situation, a Colombian network called NTN24 and CNN, were censured and kicked out of the country by the Venezuelan government. The most powerful and unhindered way left to reach the world with what is going on in Venezuela was Twitter. Many students were sharing Tweets and pictures of the situation and protests. However, Twitter was soon shut down and students were not able to exercise their freedom of speech.

   Signs in the streets of Venezuela summarizing the situation read like this: “I want a future in the country that saw me grow up,” “No more blood,” “No more deaths,” “Peace,” “Who is the one with weapon?” “You are shooting whom you swore to protect.” These statements reveal the feelings of a people too long living in turmoil.

   One anonymous woman said in a street interview, “I invite you, I invite you to the fight of the Venezuelans, because we are all Venezuelans.” Every night, student demonstrators gather around each other and pray for peace and that Venezuela can find its way to democracy.