Things That Matter

Fed Up Venezuelans Unite Nationwide To Tell Maduro They’ve Had Enough

Things in Venezuela have not been good in a long time. The country has been dealing with a shrinking economy, outrageous inflation, and the total lack of common and necessary items like food and even tampons. A recent report shows that more than 80 percent of Venezuelans are living in poverty. (For reference, that is equivalent to more than 200 million Americans living in poverty.)

This week, Venezuelans took to the streets to show the world and the Nicolás Madruo-led government that they have had enough. But the Venezuelan National Guard was quick to make things violent as they attacked protesters. Here’s a recap of this week in Venezuela.

Venezuelans took to the streets this week in protest of Nicolás Maduro and the ruling Socialist Party.


The trigger for the large-scale, nationwide protests was a move by the Supreme Court, full of pro-Maduro judges, to nullify and seize power from the Venezuelan National Assembly. The move was seen as the Maduro government making a stunning jump to change Venezuela into a dictatorship.

On March 29, the Venezuelan Supreme Court, full of pro-Maduro judges, tried undercutting the National Assembly to silence the opposition party.


In the 2015 elections, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD in the Spanish acronym) won two-thirds of the seats in Congress. The election was a strong stance by the Venezuelan people standing up to a government that they do not agree with. The Maduro-led government has been working to slowly chip away at the credibility and power of MUD since the 2015 elections.

“The objective is to put the magistrates on trial (and) get the government to publish an electoral timetable,” opposition lawmaker Stalin Gonzalez told Union Radio, according to Reuters.


“This country has changed and wants to get out of the crisis,” Gonzalez continued.

MUD, and other national governments, have alleged that the actions by the Supreme Court and the Maduro administration are nothing more than a thinly-veiled coup against the Venezuelan people.


“The United States condemns the Venezuelan Supreme Court’s March 29 decision to usurp the powers of the democratically elected National Assembly,” reads a statement by the U.S. State Department. “This rupture of democratic and constitutional norms greatly damages Venezuela’s democratic institutions and denies the Venezuelan people the right to shape their country’s future through their elected representatives. We consider it a serious setback for democracy in Venezuela.”

In an attempt to keep the Maduro administration in power, the National Guard was deployed to set up blockades to stop members of the National Assembly from voting on removing the pro-Maduro Supreme Court justices behind the power grab.


But the assembly members outsmarted the National Guard and made it to the National Assembly building before the blockades were erected for the vote. National Assembly members voted unanimously to start ousting the pro-Maduro Supreme Court justices behind the apparent coup d’état.

“What you’re seeing here today is basically a group of Venezuelans who are resisting a coup d’etat,” said Assembly President Julio Borges, according to Miami Herald. “The coup d’etat in Venezuela continues, getting worse and deeper every day.”

But, Nicolás Maduro and his government are claiming that the opposition party is the party responsible for a coup on Venezuela.


“It’s untrue that a coup has taken place in Venezuela,” the government said in a statement Thursday, according to The Washington Post. “On the contrary, the institutions have taken corrective legal action to stop the distractive, coup-like actions of an opposition that has declared itself openly in contempt of the decisions made by the republic’s top court.”

The latest news of the protests in Venezuela is the death of a 19-year-old opposition protester Jairo Ortiz.


“In the face of the vile assassination of the young Jairo Ortiz, we manifest our firm condemnation of such a vile act,” Venezuelan human rights activist and politician said on Twitter on Friday.

Ortiz is the latest victim of violence perpetuated against protesters by the National Guard this week as they also try to shut down access to the protests.


“It is Mr. Maduro who has ordered shut all the accesses to Caracas to stop people expressing their repudiation,” opposition leader Henrique Capriles told Fox News. “He’s terrified.”

The Venezuelan people are adamant that the government needs to allow for fair elections sooner rather than later so they can get out of the current government they are forced to accept.


“We’re not taking to the streets because we don’t like Maduro,” opposition leader Henrique Capriles told SF Gate. “The way we get rid of Maduro is with elections; that is how we change the worst government our country has ever seen.”

The U.S. government is trying to apply pressure to Maduro to release political prisoners and allow for immediate elections to ease the turmoil gripping the South American country.


“It’s perfectly predictable that the government is going to keep radicalizing,” Venezuelan pollster Luis Vicente Leon told The Washington Post.

But with a visible civil unrest and a determination by the people to change their country’s government, it is unsure when these elections will happen.


Perhaps more international pressure will be needed to force Maduro’s hand into having an election.


READ: Babies Are Being Born In Boxes Because No Money, But The Miss Venezuela Pageant Must Go On

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The U.S. Offers To Lift Crippling Sanctions Against Venezuela In New Plan, But There’s A Major Catch

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The U.S. Offers To Lift Crippling Sanctions Against Venezuela In New Plan, But There’s A Major Catch

Anadolu Agency / Getty

The coronavirus isn’t stopping the United States from continuing its maximum pressure campaign on Nicolás Maduro’s regime in Venezuela. 

For well over a year, Venezuela has suffered from a massive political crisis. President Nicolas Maduro clings to power as a growing number of foreign countries (including the U.S.) recognize his main competitor, Juan Guaidó, who has declared himself interim-President.

But as the country struggles to confront a growing Coronavirus pandemic, the international community is imploring the Trump administration to ease sanctions of the struggling nation. Many are concerned over its spread amid a collapsing health care system and a deep economic crisis, aggravated by U.S. sanctions and low oil prices.

The Trump administration is prepared to lift crippling sanctions on Venezuela in support of a new proposal to form a transitional government.

Credit: Kenneth Rapoza / Getty

However, getting both Maduro and Guaidó to buy into the plan – let alone millions of Venezuelans – will be an immense challenge. Nicolás Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó would both have to step aside in favor of a five-person governing council, according to U.S. officials familiar with the plan.

Under the “democratic transition framework”, all political prisoners would be released, and all foreign – mostly Cuban – forces would leave. A five-member council would be selected, with two members chosen by the opposition, two by Maduro’s Socialist party, and the fifth member picked by the other four.

“The hope is that this set-up promotes the selection of people who are very broadly respected and known as people who can work with the other side,” the US special representative for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, told the Associated Press.

The U.S. has long pushed for regime change in Venezuela and this could be a major step towards achieving this policy.

“The United States has long been committed to finding a solution to the manmade crisis in Venezuela,” the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said.

“The urgency for this has become all the more serious in light of the Maduro regime’s failure to adequately prepare for and address the global Covid-19 pandemic. This framework demonstrates our commitment to helping Venezuela fully recover and ensures that the voice of the Venezuelan people is respected and included.”

The plan would mean the end of the Maduro regime and the likely withdrawal of his largest competitor.

Credit: Elizabeth Melimopoulos / Getty

Since early 2019, Venezuela has been in the throes of a political crisis with two clashing sides vowing to take back control of the country. Millions of people have poured into the streets in support of one side or the other – often resulting in violent flare ups that have left thousands dead.

But could the promise of zero sanctions against a struggling economy be enough to make the plan work?

Credit: @carmses_in / Twitter

The US and EU would then lift sanctions on the current leadership. Broader sanctions on the country’s oil business would be lifted after all foreign forces had left the country. All sanctions would be lifted after free elections, to be held within six to 12 months.

“The basic outline is simple: We call for a transitional government that would govern for nine to 12 months and hold free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections,” U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams told reporters Tuesday. “The United States will recognize the result of a free and fair election no matter which party wins.”

The proposal comes five days after the U.S. indicted Maduro and top members of his government and army for drug trafficking and money laundering.

The Department of Justice indicted Maduro and many of his right-hand men on a range of charges, all but guaranteeing they will not be part of any potential democratic transition in Venezuela down the line.

The indictment for crimes ranging from drug trafficking to corruption to narcoterrorism puts the spotlight on the horrendous acts Maduro and his associates have allegedly perpetrated.

In addition to giving the U.S. additional leverage over Maduro, the indictment also acts as an incentive for the 14 individuals charged along with him — and others close to him — to cooperate with U.S. authorities.

The plan has his critics on both sides of the aisle.

Skeptics of the plan said it provided few incentives for the incumbent officials to give up power, days after they were charged with serious offences and multimillion-dollar rewards put on their heads.

The ultimate focus must be on alleviating the suffering of the Venezuelan people, and though it will not be eased by these recent actions alone, the only way forward is to address the root causes of the crisis, starting with Maduro.

Students Hold Sit-In To Protest Teacher Who Told Their Classmate To ‘Go Back To Your Country’

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Students Hold Sit-In To Protest Teacher Who Told Their Classmate To ‘Go Back To Your Country’

A group of students at Nicholas Senn High School in Chicago held a sit-in this week to protest a racist comment made by a gym teacher. According to students, a group of students stayed seated during the national anthem and a gym teacher told a Latina student to “go back to your country” in response.

Nicholas Senn High School students in Chicago held a sit-in to protest a teacher’s offensive comment.

According to NBC News, 17-year-old Yésica Salazar said she was at a Hispanic Heritage Month assembly when the Pledge of Allegiance was performed. She and other students remained seated as a form of protest against the anti-immigration rhetoric and policies in the country.

The incident allegedly occurred as the students were leaving the assembly for not standing. When they left, a teacher stopped the student and told her that she should “go back to your country.”

A video on Twitter shows the principal addressing the protesting students.

“I notified everybody within three hours of receiving the report. It is all in writing,” Principal Mary Beck told the students. “It is all time-stamped. I did my job. I continue to follow through based on the guidelines and policies that we have in place. Every time.”

Despite the answer, the students chanted back at her saying, “So, why is he still here?”

The school is predominately Latino and Black.

Senn High School is predominantly Latino and black. According to data, Nicholas Senn High School is 25.8 percent Black, 42.3 percent Latino, 11.2 percent white, and 17.5 percent Asian.

The “go back to your country” comment has grown in popularity since President Trump took office. There have been examples of comment shared all over social media and is directed to Black, brown, and Asian people. There have even been instances when people have used this phrase against Native American people. To be clear, it has nothing to do with immigration and everything to do with racism.

People on social media are celebrating the students for holding people in power at their school accountable.

What do you think about the protest and response?

READ: Another Sexist Man Has Mocked The Feminist Protest Movement Sweeping Latin America By Dressing Up As A Victim