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

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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Democratic Senators Introduce Legislation to Grant Venezuelan Migrants Temporary Protected Status, Prevent Deportation

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Democratic Senators Introduce Legislation to Grant Venezuelan Migrants Temporary Protected Status, Prevent Deportation

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After years of living in a state of uncertainty about their future, Venezuelan refugees in the U.S. might finally be granted long-term protection by the U.S. government.

On Monday, Democratic senators took the official steps towards granting Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Venezuelan migrants in the U.S.

A similar resolution passed in the House in 2019, but was blocked by Republicans in the senate.

This time if passed, TPS could protect 200,000 Venezuelan citizens currently in the U.S, according to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.

Although former President Trump issued a Deferred Enforced Departure decree (DED) on his final day in office, critics and immigration experts alike argue that this action didn’t go far enough.

“After four years of empty promises and deceit, nobody believes Donald Trump had an epiphany on his last day in office and decided to protect the hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans he was forcing into the shadows,” said New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez in a statement.

Indeed, Trump DED order only delayed deportation of undocumented Venezuelans for up to 18 months. But TPS would grant Venezuelan refugees protected status.

“TPS is an immigration status that can lead to a green card under President Joe Biden’s immigration proposal,” Miami-based immigration lawyer Laura Jimenez told NBC News.

“TPS is based in statute and is a legal immigration status, as opposed to Deferred Enforced Departure,” Menendez, who was born in New York City to Cuban immigrants, said. “That is why we are relaunching our campaign to actually stand with those fleeing the misery caused by the Maduro regime.”

Throughout his campaign, President Biden promised he would extend Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelan refugees, so now the refugee community wants to see him act on that promise.

Venezuela’s economy collapsed under the repressive regime of Nicolás Maduro, shrinking by approximately 64%.

Not only are there widespread food shortages and massive inflation, but Maduro’s critics are being jailed and silenced by other nefarious means.

Because of all this, the South American country facing what Bloomberg calls “a refugee crisis of unprecedented proportions.” As of now, some 5.4 million Venezuelans are in exile, with 600 more leaving the country every day.

But with the news of a likely extension of Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelans in the U.S., many Venezuelans are starting to feel optimistic about the future.

“Now, I feel like I’m really a part of this society and we keep supporting this country,” said Tampa resident Jennifer Infante to Bay News 9 about the recent Congressional news. “I think we deserve this opportunity because we came to make this country a better place and to keep moving forward.”

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Cuban Government Backtracks On Historic Deal With Protesters Just Days After Reaching An Agreement

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Cuban Government Backtracks On Historic Deal With Protesters Just Days After Reaching An Agreement

It seemed that many Cuban’s hopes for greater freedom of expression – particularly in the art world – seems to have been dashed again. In less than 24 hours after apparently agreeing to meet several demands from dissident artists, the government broke at least three of the five agreements in had made.

Freedom of expression is a hot topic in Cuba, where the communist regime severely limits what artists can say and produce.

But even more rare: public protest. That’s what makes these recent marches in Havana so important, the island hasn’t seen anything like it in decades. And as almost on script, the Cuban government flipped on its public reaction to the growing movement, instead blaming it on “U.S. imperialism” and foreign intervention.

Cuban officials have completely condemned the protest movement in a full 180º change of attitude.

Over the weekend, Cuba saw unprecedented protests led by dissident artists and creatives – known as the San Isidro movement – seeking greater freedom of expression. And although it seemed early on that the group may have made progress (the government agreed to several concessions), those hopes went up in flames as the government launched an all-out rhetorical assault.

Shortly after the meeting between protesters and officials, the protest came to a peaceful end with leaders thinking they achieved what they had set out to do, and with a meeting to discuss the issues further.

But just hours later the government called in the top U.S. diplomat on the island, charge de affairs Timothy Zúñiga-Brown, for a scolding over “grave interference in Cuba’s internal affairs” as state television ran a 90-minute special attacking members of the protest group and broadcasting visuals of their interactions with U.S. diplomats and Miami exiles.

“Sovereign Cuba accepts no interference … The revolutionary ones will fight back,” President Miguel Diaz-Canel said in one of a series of Twitter posts accusing the San Isidro movement of being a “reality show” on social media created by “U.S. imperialists.”

What originally seemed like progress now seems like business as usual for the communist regime.

Credit: Yamil Lapage / AFP / Getty Images

It seemed, at least for a few short hours, that there was a real chance at bolstering artistic freedom in Cuba. The group of protesters, known as the San Isidro movement, gathered outside the culture ministry, leading Fernando Rojas, the deputy culture minister, to invite in a group of 30 of them. The meeting lasted for more than four hours, those present have said, and resulted in a promise of greater freedoms for artists.

Writer Katherine Bisquet told the press afterward that there had been a “truce for independent spaces” where activists could meet and talk, and that further discussions were promised.

“I cannot emphasize enough that this kind of public protest, with hundreds of people standing outside a ministry for 14 hours, is unprecedented,” Cuban-American artist Coco Fusco told Artnet News. “The fact that government officials conceded to a meeting is in itself a victory for the artists and a sign of weakness on the part of the government.”

The government had also agreed to urgently review the case of a detained member of the San Isidro crew and a rapper sentenced this month to eight months in jail on charges of contempt. It also agreed to ensure independent artists in the future were not harassed.

Cuban officials blamed the U.S. for stirring up dissent.

Shortly after the government launched a verbal assault on the group, it also accused the U.S. of helping them. Officials at the Foreign Ministry summoned the top U.S. diplomat in Cuba, Chargé d’Affaires Timothy Zuñiga-Brown, and complained about U.S. “intervention.”

At Sunday’s rally, Díaz Canel said that “Trumpistas” (referring to the Trump administration) and the “anti-Cuban mafia that are now ‘Trumpistas'” (referring to Cuban American Trump supporters in Miami) “had on their agenda that before the year ends, the revolutions of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela have to fall.”

Jake Sullivan, Joe Biden’s national security adviser, tweeted Sunday: “We support the Cuban people in their struggle for liberty and echo calls for the Cuban government to release peaceful protestors. The Cuban people must be allowed to exercise the universal right to freedom of expression.”

Thanks to an imploding economy in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, Cuba is experiencing an unprecedented crisis.

Credit: Sven Creutzmann/Mambo photo/Getty Images

Cuba is going through dire shortages in food and basic goods amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has practically halted tourism to the island, on top of the Trump administration’s harsh sanctions.

Against that backdrop, García said, “I think the government should think about these things and view dialogue as a valid option to avoid a major disaster.”

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