Things That Matter

The Streets Of Caracas And Other Major Cities In Venezuela Are Empty Because Of A Nationwide Strike

Venezuela is not moving today due to a nationwide strike against President Nicolás Maduro’s plan to rewrite the country’s constitution. On Sunday, July 16, millions of Venezuelans voted on a nonbinding, symbolic measure denouncing the creation of the National Constituent Assembly. The assembly would be created by the Maduro government and be tasked with rewriting the constitution. The last time this assembly was created was in 1999, when Hugo Chavez became president of Venezuela. Chavez  rewrote the constitution and took power away from his political opponents.

Here’s what Venezuela looks and sounds like today during the strike.

Major cities around Venezuela are silent and still today as Venezuelans participate in a an anti-Maduro strike.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has argued that the assembly is an attempt to bring peace to the South American country, which has been devastated by months of sustained protest and clashes between protesters and law enforcement.

From the freeways of Caracas, Venezuela…

#Caracas también activa con el #ParoCívico #Venezuela #20Jul

A post shared by Noticias de Venezuela (@noticiasdevenezuela.0) on

These are the same freeways we have seen packed with protesters since April.

To the surface streets of Merida, some areas of Venezuela are looking like ghost towns.

Centro de la ciudad de #Mérida #ParoNacional

A post shared by Meridaaldia (@meridaaldia) on

Maduro has spoken about the strike and has said that it is failing. He say all the strike is seeking to do is negatively impact Venezuela’s economy, according to ABC News.

One state-run media company is sharing photos and videos of some Venezuelans going to work in support of Maduro.

“Workers of @SarenEnLinea working for a productive and independent Venezuela,” reads the tweet by @VTVcanal8.

However, photos coming from other Venezuelans are painting a different picture, like this photo of Universidad Católica Andrés Bello in Caracas…

CREDIT: Courtesy of Miguelangel Hernandez

The Organization of American States Secretary-General Luis Almagro has released a third report about the violence and protests taking place in Venezuela. In the report, Almargo expresses concern over the escalation that could take place if the Maduro government does not change course and listen to the citizens demanding change.

“The fear that is on everyone’s mind, but we are too afraid to speak out loud, is our fear that this will escalate into a bloodbath,” Almargo wrote in his report. “The one thing that is clear is that this regime has no regard for the human rights of its people, or the lives of its citizens. They have already made the decision that 75 lives is a price they are willing to pay to hold onto power. How many more can we, the international community tolerate?”

Or this photo comparing train usage from yesterday to today in Caracas.

El metro de Caracas, ayer y hoy ! Cual paro ? Jajajajaja #Gación !!! #venezuela #paronacional

A post shared by Miguel Angel Barrera (@miguelabarrera) on

Venezuelans set up makeshift road blocks in the early morning hours to disrupt as much as possible during the strike.

Barricada en Macaracuay por paro Nacional. #Venezuela #Protesta #ParoNacional #20Jul #fueramaduro

A post shared by publicidad en redes (@laluchaesgratis2.0) on

“We put up the barricade early, around 5 a.m.The objective is that no one goes to work, that people stay home for 24 hours,” Edmond Fakrhi, a Caracas resident told The Washington Post. “We want liberty. We want democracy. We want everyone to have access to food.”

Some of the roadblocks used fire as a way to deter people from going to work for 24 hours.

The strike has even reached some of the state-run gas stations.

Around 100 people have died protesting the Maduro government since April. More than 7 million Venezuelans worldwide recently cast symbolic, nonbinding votes to denounce the rewriting of the country’s constitution. Several countries and world leaders have come forward urging Maduro to stop to vote on July 30 for the assembly. As July continues, all eyes will be on Venezuela and Maduro.


READ: Politicians Around The World Are Praising The Results Of The Symbolic Vote By Venezuelans

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

Things That Matter

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

Things That Matter

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.”