On Wednesday, Feb. 12, three people were killed, 66 injured, and 70 arrested due to the aftermath of violent protests that broke out on the streets of Caracas, Venezuela. The politician, Leopoldo Lopez, who was in charge of organizing the protest to condemn President Nicolas Maduro for failing to control the country’s economic and crime situation, was ordered arrest by the Venezuelan Court due to being involved with murder and terrorism, linked with street protests.
The protest was full of chaos. Police vehicles were torched, government offices vandalized, and protesters plagued the streets by throwing stones and starting fires. Not all were in favor of this tactic. “NO MORE BLOOD!” was screamed by around 200 protesters waving banners who were against the violent nature of the protests. Student Manuel Armas, 19, who was among the 200 protesters stated, “We want solutions to problems, not endless confrontation and violence.”
Heavy tension was sparked between two political parties of Venezuela. Lopez and his followers were outraged by Maduro’s inability to solve and control huge issues that were heavily crippling the country. In the past year, Venezuela’s inflation topped 56 percent, crime rates are still very high, and goods shortages left some stores shelves empty. Both sides of the conflict even took their fights to Twitter, which is said to be the country’s preferred social network.
These protests have proved a big threat to President Maduro, and some question, could these outbreaks be the end of Venezuela’s socialist government? In response to this, “Maduro has vowed to crack down on other opposition leaders like him, calling them fascists and comparing them to a disease that must be cured” according to CNN.
Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue think tank, also states the following:
“It’s very hard to sustain protests. There have been other moments when there have been protests in Venezuela, and they come and they go.”
“If this one goes and sort of dies down, then I think Lopez, his star may fade, and this whole episode may pass.”
Lopez, among his leaders believe this protest is necessary to not only protect their families, but for everyone. They believe that if they retreat, they wouldn’t have a future to look forward to. Lopez also countered the backlash by saying to Reuters that, “They’re blaming me without any proof … I have a clear conscience because we called for peace.” Unfortunately for Lopez, now behind bars, faced with charges of arson and conspiracy.
Shifter states, “If the government responds in some way and deals with the situation by relieving some of the distress and trying not to clamp down further, and showing some flexibility and some willingness to engage in some dialogue and moderation, then I think it could weather this period.”