Things That Matter

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

@RJforLife13 / @lelepons / Twitter

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 Venezuelan Government Has Stopped Buying HIV And AIDS Medication

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The Venezuelan Government Has Stopped Buying HIV And AIDS Medication

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While the international news about Venezuela may have subsided just a tiny bit, make no mistake that the crisis is still very alive. The difference now is that Venezuelans are not only protesting President Nicolás Maduro, but also President Donald Trump. For years, Venezuelans have pleaded that they’re in dire need of food and other essentials, but it’s as if no one seems to care. Trump has now imposed more economic sanctions on Venezuela, though it may be all smoke and mirrors. The reality is people want Maduro out, and they want to be able to survive there too. Most low-income people have to travel to Colombia in order to get essentials that they cannot get back home. But now the most vulnerable are paying the price.

The health care system of Venezuela has stopped purchasing HIV and AIDS medication, which means an estimated 7,700 Venezuelans that are living with the disease are facing a significant emergency.

Credit: @cmternes / Twitter

A new report in Foreign Policy informs that due to the dire situation in Venezuela, their healthcare system has been unable to purchase HIV/AIDS medication. This is putting thousands of people infected at risk. The turmoil of the country’s healthcare is the result of the corruption that has plagued Venezuela since former President Hugo Chávez was in charge. It’s even worse now under Maduro.

“As a result, the country’s medical system is severely under-resourced, FP reports. “Government funding for medical care has been slashed, more than half the country’s doctors have fled Venezuela, and drastic shortages in medical equipment have hampered the ability of hospitals to provide even basic treatment for their patients.”

People with HIV or AIDS are not the only ones suffering from this downturn in medical supplies; others, including children, need basic vaccines as well. 

Credit: @PattyLayla / Twitter

Marisol Ramírez is a 56-year-old Venezuelan who travels to Colombia not just for medication but also for food. She said she sometimes has to decide between food or medicine because it is too expensive to get both. Many others are in the same position. 

Just last month, they gave me enough [antiretroviral drugs] for three months, because due to the situation in the country, we can’t be going up and down to get here. The price of [bus] tickets are incredibly high, and we can’t be coming down here every month,” Marisol Ramírez told Foreign Policy.

There is some hope. The U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) are reportedly going to send 12,000 doses of HIV/AIDS medication, but there are still several issues. 

Credit: @ReuterVZLA / Twitter

“When I was there I actually signed a letter of intent with the minister of health Juan Pablo Uribe for the United States to be providing HIV antiretrovirals to Colombia for the use with Venezuelan refugees,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar told Reuters. Azar also said there’s a plan in place to rebuild the healthcare system once Maduro is out, but who knows when that will be. 

“If you don’t have any money … or you don’t support the current government you don’t have anything,” a Venezuelan man told the Washington Blade. “It is, unfortunately, very sad.”

Some may assume that because HIV and AIDS are treatable that it’s not a problem like it was in previous years. However, people are only surviving this terrible illness because of medication, so, without it, people are likely to die. 

Credit: @PeterTatchell / Twitter

Jesus Aguais, founder of Aid for AIDS, an international organization, said that 80 percent of Venezuelans “with HIV who should be on treatment are not,” and added, “That’s terrible from a public health perspective. Not only are people going to get sicker, but HIV is going to spread faster.”

He also said another vulnerable group that is suffering from this disease that is not getting the help they deserve is the indigenous Warao community. He noted that HIV and AIDS are affecting them, and if they don’t get the proper medication, the community as a whole may be completely wiped out.

READ: The Crisis In Venezuela Is Worsening. Here’s What You Should Know Right Now

Dolores Huerta Was Just Detained For Protesting For Workers’ Rights In Fresno County

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Dolores Huerta Was Just Detained For Protesting For Workers’ Rights In Fresno County

Dolores Huerta is one of the best-known and relentless labor organizers in the U.S. Her career fighting for workers’ rights spans decades and her work is nowhere near done. Today, the 89-year-old activist was detained while protesting the treatment of In-House Supportive System workers in Fresno County who have been negotiating a pay raise for years. Here’s what went down during the Board of Supervisors meeting at the Fresno County Hall of Records.

Dolores Huerta kept her chin up in defiance as she was escorted, in plastic handcuffs, from a Board of Supervisors meeting in Fresno County.

Credit: laloalcaraz / Twitter

According to the Fresno Bee, Huerta was one of several protesters demanding that the Fresno Board of Supervisors approve a respectable raise for In-Home Supportive System (IHSS) employees.

The IHSS program “helps elderly, blind and disabled people to safely remain in their own homes when they are not able to fully care for themselves or handle routine household tasks,” reads the website. “IHSS encourages independence and self-reliance, when possible, and is an alternative to out-of-home care in institutions or nursing facilities.”

IHSS employees offer clients services like housekeeping, meal prep, laundry, bathing, and accompanying patients to medical appointments, to name a few.

Huerta and other protesters filled the Fresno County Hall of Records to voice their demands to those making the decisions.

Credit: @DaryRezani / Twitter

According to the Fresno Bee, the IHSS workers currently make the minimum wage, which is set at $12 an hour. The labor union has been negotiating a pay raise for the workers for years and the Fresno Board of Supervisors was set to approve a 10-cent per hour raise. That is what sparked the protest demanding a proper wage increase.

According to the Fresno Bee, more than 17,000 people in Fresno County rely on caregivers and that number is expected to reach 106,000 by 2030.

People are absolutely celebrating the activist for her unapologetic stance for laborers.

Credit: @AshleySayWhatt / Twitter

Huerta co-founded the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers, back in in 1962 and used her activist knowledge to fight for better working conditions for farmworkers in Delano, California. Since then, Huerta has been an example of activism and her fight for the most vulnerable in the employment community has continued.

Her reputation as a strong woman has become an irrefutable characteristic of the activist.

Credit: @Castror14 / Twitter

Señora Chingona, indeed. Huerta has been arrested several times as part of her activism. She has even used her voice and name to fight for what she thinks is right in politics. Her activism was on full display during the 2016 elections as people mobilized to fight for the Latino community.

The protesters at the Fresno Board of Supervisors meeting today were optimistic about their ability to exact change.

Protesters joyfully chanted, “We believe we can win” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, poverty wages have got to go.” The protesters were effective in getting the attention of the board. The protest was disruptive enough that the meeting was recessed for 10 minutes just 30 seconds after they began chanting. The Fresno Bee called the protest ill-timed but the protesters knew they had the attention of those in charge.

“They are finalizing the budget in September. We want to make sure they put us in the budget for a wage increase,” organizer Ua Lugo told the Fresno Bee. “So today is very important.”

Despite numerous people being detained, the protesters continued in their fight.

“It should not come to this. It should not come to this,” protester Martha Valladarez told the Fresno Bee about caring for her daughter with Down Syndrome while officers placed plastic cuffs on her. “They have no idea the love that we have for our family members.”

Huerta was released shortly after being detained and she was greeted with a cheering crowd for her willingness to keep protesting.

What do you think about Dolores Huerta being detained for her protest in Fresno?

READ: Dolores Huerta The Latina Freedom Fighter Who Taught Us ‘Sí Se Puede’ Has Been Arrested Over 20 Times