Venezuelan unrest rises, situation deteriorates


Venezuela is currently engulfed in a torrent of adamant protests and widespread civil unrest.  Since early this year, a significant chunk of the populace is unhappy with President Nicolas Maduro’s regime, and they wish to remove him from office to in hopes of changing their country for the better.

The unrest all started Jan. 6, with the murder of Monica Spears. Her death resulted in an initial protest about the rampant violent crime in the country, which spurred further protests and desires to remove President Maduro from office. One of the protest leaders, Leopoldo Lopez called for nonviolent protests, which then expanded to cover other issues in Venezuela, such as inflation, supply scarcity, and corruption.

Student protests on Feb. 12, the largest ones thus far, ended in bloodshed as government forces killed several protesters and arrested others. Maduro labeled the protesters as fascists, which further upset the populace and lead to even more protests, some of which were violent in nature.

Lopez was arrested for allegedly inciting violent protests, further hardening the protester’s resolve for change. Protesters barricaded streets and called for change, staging more and more protests in an effort to change the situation their country faces.

Government opposition has a number of reasons for protesting the government, including repression, inflation, scarcity, crime, and corruption. Studies in regard to violent crime have shown that, in Venezuela, someone is killed every 21 minutes. The government has censored many opposition leaders and news networks that said anything against the government, and harshly reacted to protests, leading to high levels of repression among the populace that further fuels the unrest.

Basic goods are in very short supply, for the country’s scarcity index (a measurement of how hard it is to acquire basic goods) is around 30 percent, meaning that three times out of ten, basic goods cannot be found. Inflation levels are skyrocketing, currently at an unprecedented 60 percent. The final reason for the opposition’s protest, corruption, is linked to a survey that reveals 75 percent of Venezuelans believe their government is heavily corrupt.

Students have been heavily involved in the protests, for they feel it is their job to take an active role in shaping their country’s future. Students all over the world face similar troubles –albeit not on the same level –and can draw inspiration from the drive and motivation of the Venezuelan youth and their political efficacy.

The events in Venezuela will have far-reaching consequences, both for the country itself and the world at large. At the time of writing, 41 people have died as a direct result of the unrest, and the protests rage on. Maduro called for mediated discussion with opposition leaders, and the world can only sit back and wait to see what will happen next.