Things That Matter

Venezuela Is Rising Up Against The Maduro Government Today And Here’s What We Know

After years of unrest and a spiraling economic crisis, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is facing the strongest show of opposition. Acting-President Juan Guaidó has called for the people of Venezuela to take to the streets and fight for Venezuela’s democracy to be restored. Here’s what has happened today.

The morning started with acting President Juan Guaidó calling for the people of Venezuela to take to the streets in a final push to restore “Venezuela’s national sovereignty.”

Guaidó took to Periscope this morning to rally the Venezuelan people and the military to join in a coup d’etat to take back Venezuela. Specifically, Guiadó called on the protesters to take to the streets in a non-violent fight against Nicolás Maduro and the regime that has devastated the country.

“Today, brave soldier, brave patriots, brave men loyal to the constitution have heard our call,” Guaidó says in the video. “We have finally met on the streets of Venezuela. Operation liberty, the Help and Freedom Committees, I invite them to immediately cover the streets of Venezuela. The first of May has started today. The definitive end of the usurpation starts today.”

One of the first things Guaidó did was to instruct the Venezuelan military to release Leopoldo Lopez from his house arrest.

Credit: @JaredGenser / Twitter

Leopoldo Lopez was the opposition leader when the Venezuelan opposition first started to push back in 2015 and 2016. His visibility and vocal opposition against Maduro made him a target in 2017. He was arrested and harassed multiple times by the Maduro government and his imprisonment at a military prison led to an international backlash against Maduro as Leopoldo’s health declined while detained.

“I have been released by the military under the orders of the constitution and President Guaidó,” Lopez tweeted for the first time since 2017. “I am at the Carlota Base. Everyone mobilize. It’a time to conquer for freedom. Strength and faith.”

Protesters have answered Guaidó’s call to take to the streets by the thousands.

The coup d’etat, being supported by members of the Venezuelan military, is pushing against pro-Maduro forces as clashes break out across the city of Caracas. Pro-Maduro forces are using deadly force against protesters as they try to end the protests and restore order.

Pro-Maduro colectivos have turned their guns and tanks against Guaidó supporters.

Colectivos were not always the armed aggressors of the Venezuelan government that we know today. It is only recently that the colectivos have participated in violence and fear-based terrorism of the Venezuelan people.

“The colectivos first appeared in the early years of the Chávez administration to inform people of social policies,” Margarita López Maya, a Venezuelan historian El Rosario University, told USA Today. “The idea was to organize people and inform them of what the government was doing.”

Some of the military member under Maduro’s rule have defected to support the Venezuelan people.

“There are generals, there are lieutenant colonels, there are majors, there are colonels — it’s a reflection of the country,” Guaidó told the press about the military joining in the fight against Maduro.

Venezuelans around the world are raising their voices for their home country today.

Venezuelans have been fighting for their country for years. The world is watching on today as they make another push to save their country from the hands of the man they no longer want in power.

This story is still developing. Check back with mitú for updates.

READ: Venezuelan Blackout Claims 21 Lives, Opposition Leaders Blame Maduro Regime

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.”