Until recently Venezuela had been known for its oil, beauty queens, relaxed and happy people, and a President that loved Castro. After President Hugo Chavez’s death in 2013, Venezuela was left as a country divided. With claims of rigged elections, staggering crime rates, and an economy that’s inflation rate is making it impossible to have access to purchase basic necessities; and a President, Nicolas Maduro that takes no accountability in fact blaming the United States for sabotaging their economy.
There is great confusion and much speculation as to what is really happening in Venezuela. President Nicolas Maduro was appointed by Chavez to become vice president in 2012; Chavez also endorsed him for future presidency when his cancer returned. After the death of Chavez, Maduro assumed presidency and once an official election was called, won by what is reported at a 1.5 percent margin. He promised the opposition a recount which never happened. This created stipulation that the election was rigged. And it sped up the beginning of one of the worse economic times Venezuela has seen.
The happenings in Venezuela are largely based on young citizens wanting to move away from the socialist ideals pushed by former President Chavez. On top of this Venezuela has one of the largest inflation rates, 56 percent, as reported by Trading Economics, making it impossible for their citizens to purchase basic necessities. Grocery stores are lacking supplies such as milk and toilet paper. Their murder rate is one of the highest in the world. Their crime and kidnapping rates are also staggeringly high and continue to rise.
The protests have been led by the new generation; university students that are not afraid to sacrifice themselves in order voice their opinions. For years Venezuelans have been afraid to speak ill of the government for fear of persecution, arrest, employment loss, and even murder. The new generation does not abide by these fears; their fears are for the future. They demand a change in a country that has been going downhill at a steady pace.
According to CNN the media has been blocked by the government, therefore much of what it seen has been propagated by social media. What is being reported by the President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, is not what the people of Venezuela are reporting. The media blackouts have not permitted Venezuelans to know the realities of the violence and protest occurring. Venezuelan television is not reflecting what is happening in the country because of the censorship laws created by the government. Although Venezuela promoted freedom of expression under Article 57 of Venezuela’s 1999 constitution, in 2004 under former President Chavez administration there where changes to the Law on Social Responsibility on Radio and Television, these being the laws that govern the media. When it was developed in 2004 it promoted freedom of expression, yet the verbiage was slightly changed during the Chavez administration in a way that meant to protect its citizens by banning things such as things that altered public order, promoted hatred, war propaganda, and disrespect towards authorities. Through these minor alterations the Venezuelan media has now had to tie their hands and continue with their regular programming. Venezuelan’s now depend on social media and the limited foreign press reports they can get their hands on.
As the image states, “the liberty of expression is yours defend it,” a poster sponsored by Reporters United For The Liberty Of Expression.
By Dony Lugo