Violence has erupted in Venezuela, but this crisis is not news to many residents of the country. Exact reasons behind the confrontations are still unclear. There are allegations of censorship and photo manipulation in what is termed a “media blackout” during what citizens believe to be a clash of anti-government protesters and authorities. Regulations have put pressure on news outlets when covering the violence. Many twitter accounts report military personnel beating and fatally injuring students for videotaping the events.
The government has been claimed to have blocked access to Twitter during the protests of last week. President Nicolas Maduro has allegedly made claims of having the situation “under control.” However, use of tear gas has been reported being launched through windows at people seen videotaping the incidents.
Feb. 12 was a world awakening moment when two protesters and a government supporter or authority were killed. Human Rights Watch, state broadcasting authority, relayed a message noting that there is a law prohibiting the broadcasting of material that “foments anxiety.”
A comedian who hosts a television program apologized to his listeners for keeping quiet about the violence. He was “ashamed” of Venezuelan media.
The government and government supporters claim most photos being shared on social media are manipulated images. Some citizens are sharing photos of old images of riots and protests from the past as a way of staying within the law. Government supporters claim they are really just trying to portray a violent event that really is not occurring.
Though many Twitter users in Venezuela have reported difficulty tweeting images of the erupted crisis, but the Venezuelan broadcasting regulator deny government interference.
El Venezolano TV is a website channel now running with intentions of presenting the public with factual coverage. This website has been created by Florida journalists despite heavy criticism by the Venezuelan government.
Matt Essert reports a person is actually murdered in Venezuela every 21 minutes, roughly 24,700 deaths have been verified for the previous year. Essert states an opposition leader by the name of Leopold Lopez, leads the movement against President Maduro’s government, which has been claimed to be so corrupt, it has nearly “buried the country into the ground.” Since taking office, Maduro has allegedly caused an increase in the inflation rate of 56 percent and a 50 percent increase in the budget deficit. The exchange rate of the dollar has reportedly dropped from 8 to 1 exchange rate to a 87 to 1 exchange rate. The President is reported to have blamed the opposition leader for the military caused deaths. Lopez is now considered a terrorist for inciting riot.
CBC reports that Leopoldo Lopez has been arrested and jailed for leading the opposition in the erupting crisis of Venezuela. In the Associated Press article posted on Feb. 22, only 10 deaths have been recorded with more than 100 people injured, a stark contrast to other reports and Twitter feeds. One woman, 23-year-old student of Valencia was pronounced dead Saturday after several attempted brain surgeries. Her name, Geraldine Moreno, and she was allegedly just watching students defend a barricade near her home when six guardsmen fired rubber bullets at close range hitting her in the head. This event was reported in El Universal newspaper. The coming weeks will reveal more information as news media outlets continue to broadcast.
By Lindsey Alexander