When the Venezuelan government banned Henrique Capriles, a Venezuelan opposition leader, from running for office in the next fifteen years, Venezuela erupted. Capriles is the most prominent leader in the reformation movement. He is the governor of the Miranda state and has lost both presidential elections against Hugo Chavez and against Maduro, the current Venezuelan president. The Venezuelan government hoped that banning Capriles would soothe tensions and reduce the number of the riots among the streets. Yet, contrary to what they expected, the streets erupted on Saturday as a form of protest to the banning of the Henrique Capriles.
The rally occurred peacefully in Carcass, but escalated when youths threw firebombs and rocks at parliament. This then resulted in the security forces to fire rubber bullets and tear gas at protesters. Opposition leader, Henrique Capriles said: “[The security forces] are mobilised as if this was a war.” Unfortunately, Armando Canizales, 17, died after being struck in the neck. A video shows the teenager whisked away, as his friends yell “No, Amarando!” Within this month of political turmoil, thirty-five people have died and many more are wounded. One of those wounded was Freddy Guevara, the legislator’s first vice president, who tweeted to Maduro, “An injury from your dictatorship is a medal of honor.” The people of Venezuela were aware of the consequences, as the government had warned protesters about protesting in the streets.
No warnings could stop the people, however, as tensions in Venezuela have been rising. This riot not only shows the growing anger of the people towards the government, but it also reflects the historical division in Venezuela. Venezuela is split into the Chavistas, which oppose socialism, and United Socialists Party (PSUV) which encourages socialism. The past two presidents have come from the PSUV party, which worries the Chavistas who think that the PSUV is beginning to remove democracy from Venezuela. Unlike Mr. Chavez, who is the president that died in 2013, Maduro is unable to rally the Chavistas to his side.
One reason is due to the economy which begins to plummet as Venezuela exports less oil. Oil accounts for 95% of Venezuela’s export revenue. The shortage of oil revenue has resulted in a reduction in social programmes, thus making Maduro unpopular among the people of Venezuela. Economists predict a 700% inflation of consumer prices, with the trend that is occurring. Venezuela also faces problems of food trafficking, and many people are starving on the streets. The US has offered to help Venezuela with 10 billion dollars, but Maduro has rejected the request at the fear of U.S power in foreign affairs.
Tensions further rose in March 29th, when the Supreme Court decreased the power of the National Assembly, which therefore heightened the power of Maduro. The people of Venezuela fear that they’re moving into a dictatorship of President Maduro. During the riot, many posters said “No Dictadura.” Then on May day, Maduro announced that he plans to change the constitution in order to defeat “coup-plotters” for peace. Opposition leaders propose that Maduro is simply trying to maximize his own power before his time comes to an end.
The culmination of these events heightened the tensions between the government and the people and lead to that riot in Caracas. The opposition requests for Maduro to leave office, for President Elections in 2017, a creation of “humanitarian channel” which would accept help from other nations, and a release of “political prisoners.”