Following the deaths of three protesters on Feb. 12, 2014, nationwide student protests have erupted all over Venezuela and continued for more than a month. Protesters have taken to the streets to demand an end to financial and social insecurity. What began peacefully became a bloody battle of tear gas, explosions, gunshots, and a series of violent exchanges between the police force and demonstrators.
“This is not a protest… This is destruction,” said Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro.
The student demonstrators blame their government for rising inflation, crime, and supply shortages over the years. Many hold the Maduro regime responsible for the declining economy.
Despite continued protests, Maduro has assured pro-government citizens that “there will be no coup d’etat in Venezuela, you can be absolutely sure of that, let the whole world know that.”
Carlos Molina, a student living in Venezuela, described the situation in an interview with J Student Reporters.
“It’s really difficult to move around the city, I know some people who are studying in the university and most students have been oppressed and abused,” he told JSR. “People who are lacking basic products are now turning to the United States to provide necessities.”
Molina’s daily life, he said, is affected by the demonstrations.
“I haven’t been able to go to school,” he stated, “due to people putting trash and twigs on the ground as a form of protest.”
Despite this difficulty, he holds respect and appreciation towards fellow student protesters, saying, “They’re extremely brave and should keep on protesting.”
The international community is asking Maduro to put a peaceful end to the protests before they cause more damage. So far, President Maduro has rejected all forms of intervention from foreign countries and continues to act independently in resolving the conflict.
Yet Maduro and the students continue to be at odds, and a solution does not appear to be forthcoming.
“I’ve participated in some protests, but some are too dangerous,” said Molina. “What we need is a leader.”