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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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

Venezuelan Politics Are In Turmoil As Maduro’s Military Blocked The Opposition From Entering Parliament

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Venezuelan Politics Are In Turmoil As Maduro’s Military Blocked The Opposition From Entering Parliament

Paul Rivera Gallegos / Getty

It is sometimes hard to keep up with the roller coaster that are current Venezuelan politics. Since opposition leader Juan Guaido self-proclaimed as Interim President in his capacity as head of the National Assembly, international actors have recognized him as the leader of the South American nation while on the ground political power keeps resting on the socialist government led by Nicolas Maduro. Now a new development has maintained the status quo when it seemed that Guaido would get a boost in his political influence and power and present a bigger challenge to the Maduro regime that some, including most US politicians, call a “dictatorship”. Guaido was set to be re-elected as head of Congress but he was blocked from entering the building by security forces. 

Maduro’s government snatched the National Assembly from opposition leader Juan Guaido and las cosas se pusieron color de hormiga.

The Venezuelan government has now used its security forces to stop Guaido from being re-elected as Head of Congress. As Reuters reports from Caracas: “Troops with riot shields blocked opposition leader Juan Guaido from entering parliament for what was expected to be his re-election as head of Congress, at one point pulling him off the compound’s iron railings after he tried to push past security forces”. Because Guaido could not be elected, Maduro’s party, the Socialist party, handed the post to Luis Parra, who has recently faced corruption allegations. 

However, an alternative vote was held at the headquarters of a newspaper that is favorable to the opposition, and Guaido was re-elected.

National Assembly President Juan Guaido swears himself in as President of the National Assembly with opposition lawmaker votes at the newspaper El Nacional’s headquarters in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrea Hernandez Briceño)

So now there are two de facto Heads of Congress in a country that is deeply divided in political issues and is facing economic challenges that seem insurmountable. The opposition’s tally shows that 100 out of 167 legislators voted for Guaido. 

World powers are divided over Venezuela and that is a worrying sign, the United Nations is growing increasingly worried.

As if the tension over Iran wasn’t enough to get many thinking that the world is on the verge of a major military clash, Venezuela is another hotspot of geopolitical tension. While the European Union, the United States and most Latin American countries have condemned Maduro’s forceful cling to power, Chine, Russia and Cuba remain supportive of his regime. Venezuela has rich oil reserves and sits at a key location in the Southern Hemisphere.

Things could get ugly very quickly. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo congratulated Guaido on winning a second term as Head of Congress: “Venezuela’s political parties came together in a resounding display of unity to support Juan Guaido’s re-election. No regime thugs, no jail cells, and no bribery or intimidation can subvert the will of the Venezuelan people.”

But regardless, things in Caracas remain tense and opposition legislators are being stopped at checkpoints around Congress. As reported by Sputnik News, the United Nations is worried at the recent developments and has said through its spokesperson: “The Secretary-General is following with concern the events surrounding the election of the president of the National Assembly, which make urgently needed dialogue even more difficult to achieve. The Secretary-General calls on all actors to take immediate steps to lower tensions and to work towards a peaceful and sustainable solution to the political crisis”. 

The United States has condemned the move and congressmen have used harsh words.

The United States has long had an antagonistic relationship with the socialist regime in Venezuela first led by Hugo Chavez and then by Nicolas Maduro. The most recent development in the convoluted political landscape in Venezuela has been received with harsh words by US congressmen.

For example, congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security and Trade, released the following statement: “Having dismantled every other democratic institution in Venezuela, yesterday the Maduro dictatorship tried to seize the country’s last vestige of democracy, the National Assembly. Maduro’s months-long effort to bribe legislators to vote against Juan Guaidó failed, so he used force as a last resort to block assembly members from entering the chamber and re-electing Juan Guaidó as their leader.”

US politicians still recognize Juan Guaido as the Interim President.

The statement continued its condemnation of Maduro’s effort to maintain the status quo: “Yesterday’s action changed nothing; it merely revealed the Maduro dictatorship’s desperation to cling to power at any cost. I will continue to work with my colleagues and the legitimate government of Venezuela, led by Interim President Juan Guaidó, to support the Venezuelan people in their continued effort to restore democracy. The need for free, fair, and fully democratic elections in Venezuela has never been more urgent.”