The protest gained strength during Venezuela’s national youth day, in which many Venezuelan students began to raise awareness about their lack of opportunities, as well as the poor conditions of the country. As the student-led protest gained more and more support, the Maduro administration began to send police to shut down the demonstration which resulted in violence against the protesters. This violence has resulted in many deaths, including the student protester Bassil Da Costa. Maduro has been addressing the “mastermind” of the protests, Leopold Lopez as a “fascist”, who is committing terrorism and vandalism through a plot to oust Maduro from government. Recently, Lopez has stated in a video that he will attend one of the upcoming protests and challenge the government to arrest him there, as he has not broken the law. In his video he made the following statement: “I will be there to show my face. I have nothing to fear. I have not committed any crime.” He called on his supporters to dress white, "to reaffirm our commitment to peace". Currently, the government officials are attempting to arrest Lopez through a warrant approved by Maduro. Maduro has stated the following: “We can't have a moment of weakness, because we are trying to defeat a fascist movement that wants to end the country we have." Through this, it is strongly suggested that the Maduro administration is trying have a strong control of the country, despite the opposition of how it is currently handled. Government supports are following the conflict with peace marches against fascism. However, the police and militia violence are being used by Maduro as a way of claiming that his administration is targeting crime in the country as a sort of propaganda. A control of information is also supported by the Venezuelan government, such as blocking images on websites, as well as the news channel NTN24, for the following reasons given by Maduro: “No one is going to come from abroad and try to perturb the psychological climate of Venezuela.” Now the other source of information for the Venezuelan population is the channel, Telesur, which is administered by the government.
The deliberate use of the word “fascism” seems to indicate a strong ideological divide set within the population of Venezuela, without truly understanding what the opposition’s ideology is and then attaching a negative label. The rivalry between both parties has completely taken over Caracas. “Get out Yankees. Long live Chavez, long live Maduro. Get out saboteurs. We want peace in our homeland, Venezuela,” said one government supporter. This anti-American response has resulted on the expulsion of three consular U.S. officials.
The strong opposition against Maduro is now met with foreign support by the Cuban government to maintain Maduro’s control. This involvement has brought greater concerns as to what the international response should be. The American government has entered into discussions of aiding the protestors to counter the Cuban involvement. Even prior to this, Maduro has blamed the U.S. for supporting the opposition and being behind a coup plot. However, this would also raise even bigger concerns about the possible consequences. It would appear that the ideological divide in Venezuela is strongly reminiscent of the conflicts during the Cold War, resulting in the questionable international involvement in the situation with the U.S. and Cuba being two spheres of influence associated in the conflict.
Note from the Editor: Ramiro kindly asked that we post the following video to illustrate the crisis that is occurring. The video does contain some graphic content that isn't suitable for all audiences; you have been diclaimered.