Locals rally in support of Venezuelan protests

The Philadelphia Venezuelan community demonstrated against governmental policies of their home country, Sunday near Independance Hall. The protestors criticized the Venezuelan government's abuses to free speech, treatment of student activists, inflation, crime rates, and ties to Cuba. February 16, 2014, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ( Matthew Hall / Staff Photographer )
The Philadelphia Venezuelan community demonstrated against governmental policies of their home country, Sunday near Independance Hall. The protestors criticized the Venezuelan government's abuses to free speech, treatment of student activists, inflation, crime rates, and ties to Cuba. February 16, 2014, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ( Matthew Hall / Staff Photographer )
Posted: February 18, 2014

DOZENS of demonstrators mobilized in front of the Liberty Bell yesterday afternoon in support of the anti-government protests that have erupted in Venezuela.

Protests in solidarity with the people in the South American nation have been increasing steadily since 66 people were injured in riots around the country and three were shot dead in its capital, Caracas, on Wednesday.

"Crime is out of proportion, there is a food shortage and there are laws implemented by the government to restrict the media," protest organizer Emilio Buitrago, who moved to Philadelphia from Venezuela 17 years ago, said yesterday. "We must raise our voices, or our country will become a second Cuba."

Men and women dressed in the country's colors of red, blue and yellow converged on Independence Mall about noon and sang the country's national anthem.

A few passers-by took notice of the demonstration and joined the protesters despite having little knowledge of Venezuela's situation.

"The world's a bigger place and I don't know everything that's going around in the world," David Rider said. "But we were just interested in figuring out more so we decided to check it out."

Unrest in Venezuela has been escalating among those who oppose President Nicolas Maduro's policies. Maduro took office - some have argued illegitimately - after former leader Hugo Chavez died of cancer last year. Critics of Maduro blame him for the country's failing economy and soaring crime rate.

The protests in Venezuela have been largely led by students and opposition leaders. Conflict has also been fueled by suspicions there that the government has attempted to limit media coverage of the ongoing demonstrations.

"Venezuelans just can't stand this anymore. People took the streets peacefully and the government are repressing them with violence," said Maria Romero, a participant of yesterday's protest in Philadelphia.

The crowd, which amassed to around 50, mostly learned of the demonstration through Facebook and Twitter, organizer Nelly Jimenez Arevalo said.

"We sent out invitations to every Venezuelan we knew through social media," Arevalo said. "We don't want to see Venezuela fail. We're here, but we want our people to know that we are supporting them."

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|