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

Protesters have filled the streets in Venezuela amidst calls of a rigged election for President Nicolás Maduro. The socialist leader declared himself president on Wednesday despite overseeing one of the most devastating economic collapses. The leader of the opposition party, Juan Guaido, declared himself the interim president with the support of the Venezuelan people and the National Assembly prompting support from several governments around the world. The turn of events in Venezuela has many fearing violence and government opposition in what has already been tumultuous years in the South American country.

Venezuela is trying to cut off relations with the United States due to their support of Guaido.

Maduro’s government responded to the U.S. backing Guaido by saying he no longer recognizes diplomatic relations with the United States. He gave American diplomats 72 hours to leave Venezuela. While Guaido doesn’t plan on keeping the title of president indefinitely, he says he will call for new elections in the near future.

“Today, I am officially recognizing the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, as the Interim President of Venezuela,” President Trump said in a statement. “In its role as the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people, the National Assembly invoked the country’s constitution to declare Nicolás Maduro illegitimate, and the office of the presidency therefore vacant. The people of Venezuela have courageously spoken out against Maduro and his regime and demanded freedom and the rule of law.”

Guaidó and other world leaders say the rigged vote means that he, as the President of the National Assembly (the country’s legislative body), is the true leader of the country. Guaidó started country-wide protests on last week to force President Maduro’s resignation showing the growing displeasure of his leadership.

Protesters took over city streets across Venezuela and some turned deadly.

There have been protests in support of Guaidó and even some for Maduro across cities in Venezuela. According to the CNN, 40 people have been killed in the civil unrest as military officials have used violent force against protesters. The protests began coinciding with the anniversary of the 1958 coup that overthrew military dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez, a historic date for Venezuelans.

The growing unrest in Venezuela is due to years of economic mismanagement, repression and corruption cases that have plagued the country. These conditions have led to millions of people being driven out of the country amid inflation and severe shortages of basic items like food and medicine.

While Guaidó has the support of many Venezuelans, experts say it’s unlikely he will succeed.

While Guaidó is the leader of the National Assembly, President Maduro still controls many of the country’s most powerful institutions, particularly the military. It will mostly take outside interference to be able to take down Maduro’s regime.

This is where things can get ugly as the U.S. might be that force that will have to get involved if things don’t improve rapidly in Venezuela. Venezuela’s military has pledged its support for Maduro showing that his downfall won’t be happening anytime soon.

“Anyone can declare himself president, but it’s the Venezuelan people who elect him, not the gringo government,” Maduro said to his supporters in a rally.

What’s next for Venezuela?

It’s hard to say what will happen next as Maduro still has so much power and is technically still the president of Venezuela. On Thursday, President Maduro ordered all of Venezuela’s diplomats in the U.S. to leave and said the country’s embassy and consulates in the U.S. will close as well.

By cutting off relations with the U.S., he is signaling to the world this will be the direction for the country moving forward. At the White House, Trump said “all options are on the table” should Maduro refuse to resign. One thing is clear from the growing turmoil, the people of Venezuela are being hurt the most in all of this.

“All of us want a change, a political change that helps us get over this terrifying crisis,” Adrian Cordero, a 32-year-old mechanic in Venezuela told the LA Times. “We’re hoping for a change that enables us to reunite with our family members who have left the country so as not to die of hunger. The country can’t tolerate this situation.”


READ: Peña Nieto Has Been Accused Of Taking A $100 Million Bribe From El Chapo Before Taking Office

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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

Photo via Getty Images

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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