Things That Matter

As Nicolas Maduro Dances In Celebration, Protests Turn Violent In The Streets Of Venezuela

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The crisis in Venezuela shows no signs of improving as violence erupted at several points along Venezuela’s border over the weekend. Armed government forces tried to block shipments of aid from entering the country that resulted in the death of four people and injuring countless more. Soldiers threw tear gas and rounds of rubber bullets at protesters who tried to bring boxes of aid across the neighboring Colombian and Brazilian borders. The aid, which came from the U.S, is desperately needed right now as thousands are in urgent need of food and medicine.

Venezuela is on the brink of a humanitarian crisis with no end in sight.

Maduro, pedazo de malnacido, sabíamos que eres incompetente, ignorante, farsante, dictador, marioneta, corrupto, narco, cobarde, criminal, pero ahora ya sabemos que eres el asesino criminal del pueblo venezolano. Que Dios te maldiga y te fulmine. Y pronto!!! pic.twitter.com/joCgq95feX— Miguel Bosé (@BoseOfficial) February 23, 2019

This is all happening as as embattled president Nicolás Maduro tries to withstand opposition from within Venezuela and other international leaders who’ve called for him to step down. Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido, who is being supported by the U.S., backed the efforts of the incoming aid. Maduro has rejected the help and called upon military forces to stop people from getting to the aid, this resulted in a clash with activists at the Venezuelan border on Saturday.

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“They started shooting at close range as if we were criminals,” Vladimir Gomez, a shoekeeper told NBC News. “I couldn’t avoid the (rubber) bullets and they hit me in the face and my back. We have to fight.”

Trucks carrying aid have been torched as Maduro has attempted to stop help from coming into the country.

A truck in a convoy attempting to deliver humanitarian aid into Venezuela from Colombia went up in flames and crowds started taking boxes of supplies from another truck, as Nicolas Maduro has refused to allow any kind of international aid in the country. https://t.co/nmlqoBh818 pic.twitter.com/KUIIgqe52p— ABC News (@ABC) February 25, 2019

Three trucks of aid caught on fire along border checkpoints at the Santander and Simón Bolivar bridges that connect Venezuela to Colombia. Venezuelan authorities blamed pro-opposition protestors for burning the aid trucks and for attacking Venezuelan security authorities on the bridges. Maduro has previously said the aid is not needed and called those trying to help bring it in to the country “traitors.”

While all this was happening, Maduro was dancing it up at a pro-regime rally.

Maduro dances on national TV as national guards fire tear gas and plastic pellets at crowds trying to move humanitarian aid into the country along the Colombian border pic.twitter.com/4u4zEHDixi— Patricia Laya (@PattyLaya) February 23, 2019

Video captured Maduro dancing with his wife during a pro-regime rally Saturday in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas. The scene was criticized by many as turmoil in the streets turned deadly. Even as Maduro starts to lose power within his own country, he has remained defiant in his refusal to give up control.

Maduro has now broken off diplomatic and political relations with Colombia because of their support of the U.S. move to bring aid. He has ordered all Colombian diplomats to leave Venezuela.

The U.S has now placed more sanctions on Venezuela, asking for Maduro to step down.

Vice President Pence announces new sanctions against Venezuela’s Maduro in speech from Colombia https://t.co/Se2XijM7Bv— TIME (@TIME) February 25, 2019

On Monday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met with Venezuelan Guaido to show the country’s support. The meeting was the first between Pence and Guaido since the US decided to publicly back him as the rightful Venezuelan leader about a month ago. While President Trump has previously said “all options are on the table” when it comes to Venezuela, the U.S. will try to diplomatically take down Maduro first.

“In the days ahead as well, the United States will announce even stronger sanctions on the regime’s corrupt financial networks. We will work with all of you to find every last dollar that they’ve stolen and work to return it to the Venezuelan people,” Pence said at the meeting with Guaidó.

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One thing is clear, the people in Venezuela are facing turmoil beyond just the rule of Maduro. The country is facing economic downfall due to inflation and a government that is denying help. If Guaidó and other opposition forces are too succeed, they will need restore hope back to the people of Venezuela.

Esperanza Rodriguez, 49, had worked as a Venezuelan police offer for 19 years before leaving the job. She was at the border where she asked security to allow the aid in. Rodriguez told the LA Times the people in Venezuela are suffering and change is desperately needed.

“This is just the first step. We need to get rid of Maduro and his corrupt government and start a new Venezuela.”

READ:What You Need To Know About The Growing Turmoil In Venezuela That Has Left At Least 40 People Dead

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PHOTOS: People Are Showing Up All Over The Country To Tell Trump To #CloseTheCamps

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PHOTOS: People Are Showing Up All Over The Country To Tell Trump To #CloseTheCamps

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As Fourth of July came and went, Americans reconsidered what it meant to be An American. The U.S. claims to be based on liberty and justice for all yet, migrant families are detained in deplorable conditions and children are caged in federal concentration camps. The Fourth of July parades around the country reflected American concern and outrage over recent images of children in cages, and the parades aren’t stopping anytime soon.

Mass days of action, organized by advocacy group MoveOn, have been scheduled, and this week saw 185 mobilizations alone. Here are the most visceral, powerful photos of the #CloseTheCamps protests thus far.

In case anyone is desensitized to seeing photos of brown kids in cages, here are some white kids in a cage speaking out.

Credit: @jacobsoboroff / Twitter

The photo, taken in Ojai, California during a Fourth of July march, caused a huge stir on social media. These are children, just like anyone else’s child, who absolutely, never ever belong in cages.

This Independence Day Lady Liberty was passing out flyers for the July 12 demonstrations.

Credit: @RiveraSunAuthor / Twitter

“I was Lady Liberty inviting everyone to stand up for the freedoms of all people,” tweets @RiveraSunAuthor. It doesn’t take a large number of people to make and a big and lasting impact. Just do your part and raise awareness immediately around you.

While this protester in Maine wanted to remind the President of the actual law.

Credit: @Individisble_MDI / Twitter

It’s called human rights, and for most, it’s obvious, but this Lady Liberty wants to spell it out for the bobos in the back. There is power in knowledge and the more we all know the better we can exist as a society.

That same Maine protest committed to showing children’s clothes on a laundry line questioning the meaning of freedom.

Credit: @Individsible_MDI / Twitter

“Freedom? Family? Fun? Close the Camps,” the clothing line reads. This is the kind of civil demonstration that people are looking for right now.

Never Again Action made a culinary masterpiece to fuel their demonstration.

Credit: @NeverActionActn / Twitter

Never Again Action is a Jewish activist group that ensures that #NeverAgain starts right now. The group acknowledges that the “detention centers” fit the criteria for concentration camps that target a group of individuals and jail them without due process. 

“Good Shabbos! Let’s all get the rest we need,” tweeted the advocacy group, “so we can enter next week reenergized and focused on demanding our government #CloseTheCamps.”

Over 30 Jewish activists have been arrested thus far for their protests.

Credit: @SanctuaryDMV / Twitter

The group has been adamant in reminding folks that Anne Frank didn’t die in the gas chambers. She died from typhus spread by lice because of filthy, unsanitary and crowded conditions. Over twenty immigrants have died in federal custody since the family separation policies began.

Latinos can’t see red stripes without seeing bars.

Credit: @VotoLatino / Twitter

For so many, Independence Day felt like a day of grief. It feels wrong to celebrate freedom when traumatized children are denied the basic human dignity of a bed, soap, and toothpaste. Children deserve better and the U.S. government has failed to give them the most basic needs.

Famous actress Padma Lakshmi made this very American pie on the Fourth.

Credit: @PadmaLakshi / Twitter

“A truly American pie for the bbq today,” she tweeted. Liberty looks a whole lot like #closethecamps.

Just three hours after seeing Lakshmi’s pie, this little girl made a cake of her own.

Credit: @rafaelshimunov / Twitter

“Just three hours after my daughter Nadia saw @PadmaLakshmi’s #CloseTheCamps #July4th pie,” tweets Nadia’s mom. Seeing so many American children who understand the horror of Family Separation raises their fists in the airs is what America looks like.

This Kentucky family came out on July 2nd with a baby-sized protest sign fit for an actual baby.

Credit: @ACLUofKY / Twitter

The Kentucky division of the ACLU tweeted out the photo saying, “Louisville families joined people in 183 other cities today for Close the Camps protests! They demand the closure of migrant detention centers and an end to inhumane conditions. #closethecamps #familiesbelongtogether”

This dedicated protester wants other tax-payers to know that $750 a day per child goes to a private detention company.

Credit: @PaulineHill01 / Twitter 

This group has demonstrated against the current administration every single week for two years. “Today we are in solidarity with others across the country who are against separating children from families. #FamiliesBelongTogether,” tweets Pauline Hill.

This protest group crowded Grant Central station to get the administration’s attention.

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The only way to do that is to get media attention. Every single one of these protests has garnered media attention that starts local and grows to the national press. Once the administration feels public pressure, they’re more obligated to take action.

READ: A Week After AOC Compared Detention Centers To Concentration Camps, Jewish Activists Arrested For Protesting ICE

Protests Are Growing Across Honduras As People Ask For President Juan Orlando Hernandez To Step Down

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Protests Are Growing Across Honduras As People Ask For President Juan Orlando Hernandez To Step Down

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There is growing violence in Honduras as people have taken to the streets to voice their dismay over President Juan Orlando Hernandez. Public demonstrations started back in April after proposed health and education reforms that doctors and teachers fear would privatize their sectors. The decrees have angered many in the country and have caused other workers from other sectors to joined in on protests. This has all led growing calls for President Hernandez to step down.

What’s really going on in Honduras?

When decrees were issued by President Hernandez in April, the Honduran education and health ministers were given free rein to implement austerity measures. Since then, Honduras has been in turmoil with growing protests putting the president under constant pressure.

Many feel that the current Honduran administration has failed to create opportunities for anyone but the richest in the country. There has also been concerns of corruption and increasingly authoritarian force by the government.

Teachers and medical workers would eventually form the Platform for the Defence of Health and Education in Honduras to demand the government repeal the proposed decrees. But even after the proposals were shut down too late. Since then, massive protests in the streets of Tegucigalpa, the capital, and around the country have formed.

Many feel that there are less job and growth opportunities in Honduras which have led to a surge in people leaving the country.

Hondurans currently represent 30 percent of Central American migrants detained at the U.S. border this year. This up from 13 percent back in 2016, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Advocates say lack of upward mobility nad mass corruption has hurt the economy. This has all been fueled by crime and has prevented the government from creating programs needed to keep people in the country.

“The situation here in Honduras has been bad for years,” Josué, 20, told the BBC back in January. “One tries to make it north, that’s our dream, because here even when you do have work, what you get paid is only just enough to eat.”

Protests have turned dangerous and there have been calls of excessive force by military police.

Images have flooded social media showing protesters in masks calling for the resignation of President Hernandez. Military police were deployed across Honduras last week after protests left three dead, including a 29-year-old man who died from gunshot wounds.

This week, around 40 military police met protesters at the National Autonomous University of Honduras. They fired tear gas on protesters who in return threw rocks at them, injuring at least four people.

Protests are anticipated to continue this week as Honduras marks the 10th anniversary of its 2009 military coup, where left-wing president Manuel Zelaya was ousted just seven months before his term was set to end.

Public demonstrations erupted and lasted for weeks. Elections were held shortly after, which many considered illegitimate. The National Party came to power and has ruled over the government ever since. Hernandez was first elected in 2013.

What’s going to happen moving forward in Honduras?

Credit:@personalescrito/Twitter

It’s hard to see peace being restored anytime soon in Honduras as many are fleeing the country and nearby El Salvador. As the U.S. has backed President Hernandez, there seems to be no sign that his tenure will be coming to an end in the near future.

What most people fear is the continuation of a failing economy and rising prices for health, food and fuel shortages around the country. It seems that only a change in government or a peaceful resolution with leaders will spark new hope in Honduras.

READ: Migrants Will No Longer Have Access To English Classes, Ping-Pong, Soccer Or Legal Services Under New Policy

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