Since the beginning of the Arab Spring, a massive wave of government discontent has swept the planet. Enough so to start massive protests, riots and revolutions across the Earth. In each conflict, there has been a very careful selection of words to describe the dissent. For the people of Egypt and Libya, they were known as freedom fighters, removing the shackles of oppression from tyrant’s regime. Middle Eastern people are still seen as such by many Americans even as they once again restructure their governments anew. The people of Ukraine are known most commonly as protesters regardless of the failure on their part to maintain peaceful demonstrations. As three more die in Venezuela, the demonstrations begin to look a lot like not actual protests.
The most recent 1999 constitution of Venezuela, similarly to our constitution, grant the “freedom of conscience and to express the same”. This article of the constitution goes on to say that expressions deemed criminal are exempt from the protection of the law just as one is unable to yell fire in a movie theater. The mass assembly of people is not illegal in the nation and was considered a major step forward from Venezuela’s previous constitution. The newer constitution included many more human rights than previous installments to safeguard the people of Venezuela from previous abuses pointed out by the United Nations.
Still, governments change and the people of Venezuela grow fed up with a socialist government that has time and time again failed to provide basic luxuries such as toilet paper. Inflation and crime also play a major role in the sparking of the unrest. Started by students in Tachira on Feb. 12th, the protests spawned more demonstrations after students were arrested.
Since the start of the public unrest, a total of 25 people have been killed. The unrest has spread throughout the nation. Considering the wide-spread of these demonstrations, they are not actually protests. The fine line between protest and civil war are subtle. Death by firearms quickly changes the tone of any protest. When both government forces as well as civilian forces are killed, it no longer constitutes calling the conflict a protest. The time for negotiation ended when the demonstrations turned violent.
The goal of a protest is to convince the superior powers to change their ways. When violence erupts it a clear indication that the intended target, in this case government, has no inclination to give in to demands set forward. As President John F. Kennedy once said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” The disruption of the peaceful change by force only fueled the vehicle that drove the people to violently respond. The wide spread actions of the Venezuelan people across their nation remove the isolated and controlled element of a protest. Calling the conflict a protest not only gives deniability to the so called protesters, but also dishonors the memory of the first casualties in the fight. If the battles persist, a full armed revolution is not off the table. Venezuela’s turmoil may have publicly started with protests, they can not accurately be called protests any longer.
Opinion By Andy Diaz