Caspian Report: Venezuela Protest Explained

With most of the media focusing on Ukraine, its easy to overlook the protests in Venezuela, and its just as easy to assume that both countries face the same issues. In both cases the demonstrators demanded the resignation of the president, but thats were the similarities end. To understand the ongoing protest movement in Venezuela we need to go back to april 2013 when Nicolas Maduro won the presidential election by a one percent difference. The opponent Henrique Capriles refused to accept the results of the election, claiming that there were election irregularities, like ballot stuffing and coerced voting. However, the National Elections Council dismissed the calls for a complete review of the allegations. The opposition and the government were set on a collision course. The people were gearing up for mass demonstrations, and the chances of violence grew by minute. Realizing that Capriles called for the protesters to step back, disappointing his supporters. He was determined to challenge the results of the elections through the judicial system. Not only was Capriles’s case rejected but the court even fined him for offending the state. This became Capriles’s second major failure, and it proved a to be a disastrous one. It damaged his own reputation and also created a rift between the moderate and radical wing elements of the opposition.

Harvard educated Leopoldo López, one of the leaders of the radical wing, is now credited as the main leader of the ongoing protest movement. This information is inaccurate, as it were in fact university students, who started the demonstration in response to a campus sexual assault. This set off a chain reaction and as time went by the demonstrations expanded to include mostly people from the middle class and upper class, who were angry over the crime rates, police brutality, corruption, inflation, scarcity of goods, the media blackout, and so on. At the moment the protests are extremely polarized without any common ground.

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