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2011-01-31

Venezuelans congregate worldwide to protest government

By Titina González, Miguel A. Rodríguez and Marta Escurra for Infosurhoy.com—31/01/2011

From Caracas to Madrid, protests against Venezuela’s leader decry ‘dictatorship’ in Venezuela.

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Venezuelans gathered at the Simón Bolívar statue in Washington, D.C., to protest President Hugo Chávez’s administration on Jan. 23. (Marta Escurra for Infosurhoy.com)

Venezuelans gathered at the Simón Bolívar statue in Washington, D.C., to protest President Hugo Chávez’s administration on Jan. 23. (Marta Escurra for Infosurhoy.com)

CARACAS, Venezuela – Thousands gathered in the Venezuelan capital to denounce President Hugo Chávez’s administration, calling it a “dictatorship” on Jan. 23. The date coincided with the 53rd anniversary of the fall of the dictatorship of Marcos Pérez Jiménez, one of Venezuela’s bloodiest strongmen.

Similar protests occurred simultaneously around the world, including in Madrid, Mexico City, Tegucigalpa, Miami, New York City and Washington, D.C.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez dismissed the accusations of being a “dictator” at a counter, pro-government rally the same day.

“They accuse me of being a dictator,” Chávez said. “They must be crazy.”

“The last dictatorship in Venezuela fell on December 6, 1998,” he said, in reference to the day he was first elected president. “Venezuelans will elect me again in 2012,” he added.

“Every day, there will be more democracy in Venezuela – this democracy that gives more power to the people,” he added. “Democracy is as necessary to socialism as oxygen is to living things.”

The government’s numerous violations of the Venezuelan Constitution are grounds for the protests, said Félix Velásquez, a spokesperson for the NGO “Un mundo sin mordaza” (A world without muzzle), which organized the demonstrations.

he said.

“I am here to defend the political prisoners and those persecuted by the government,” said Marlene Bethancourt, who attended the rally in Caracas. “We cannot remain silent while others are imprisoned or exiled because [the government] didn’t like what they did or what they protested against.”

“The judiciary has been confiscated,” said Sobella Mejías, a former member of the country’s National Electoral Council (CNE), who also attended the rally in Caracas. “There is no independence of the powers, so that’s why we have to get out and fight.”

Caracas Metropolitan Mayor Antonio Ledezma and several opposition congressmen, including Richard Blanco and María Corina Machado, also attended the rally where thousands participated on Francisco de Miranda Avenue.

“Citizens need to fight for freedom, a right that is vulnerable in this country,” Blanco said. “I demand President Chávez stop persecuting political [opponents].”

Around the world

Many Venezuelans living in the United States joined the protests in several cities, including Washington, D.C., where they congregated at the Simón Bolívar statue at the S&T Triangle Park. Nearby, about a dozen members of El Salvador’s leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN, a guerrilla group in the 1980s, now a political party), gathered in support of the Venezuelan government.

“I’m Salvadoran, I lived in war times, I lived in a dictatorship, I was subjected to persecution, I saw a lot of people dying next to me when we went to protests, so what dictatorship is the Venezuelan opposition talking about?,” said Sonia Umanzor, a Salvadoran activist and FMLN supporter who was among the Salvadorans protesting the Washington, D.C. rally.

“We are against Chávez’s latest decisions, including the ‘fast-track’ law, limitations on private property and human rights violations,” said Juan Pío Hernández, 25, head of the D.C. chapter of “Un Mundo sin Mordaza.” “We are here to commemorate this date and also to call for an end to … dictatorship in Venezuela.”

The crowd, comprised mostly of young Venezuelans, was enthusiastic and loud, unfazed by frigid temperatures.

“I had to leave Venezuela very young,” said Daniela Bustillos, a 17-year-old high school student in Alexandria, Va. “I left Venezuela because of all that was going on. There is no freedom of expression, and I am here fighting to make my country what it used to be.”

In Madrid’s Parque El Retiro, about 200 protesters gathered at the statue honoring Venezuelan poet Andrés Eloy Blanco to demand Chávez be removed from office so “freedom” could return to Venezuela.

Protesters requested “the [return] of fundamental rights and freedom … in Venezuela,” said Luis Barreiro, president of the NGO Venezuelan Democratic Platform in Madrid.

“We do not want a national confrontation. We only want this kidnapping [of liberties] to stop. Because that’s what we are: Hostages of the government,” Williams Cárdenas, vice president of the Democratic Platform, said.

In New York City, Venezuelans and Cubans gathered in front of the Simón Bolívar equestrian statue located in Central Park to protest new measures giving absolute power to the president. The Venezuelan consul in New York, Carol Delgado, talked to them along with a small group of Venezuelans who support Chávez.

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9 Comments

  1. ISABEL 06/26/2012

    You filthy Venezuelans,you should have no rights. You fled from my country,God knows why and if you were here in my beautiful Venezuela, like you say, people like you would not be allowed to contribute no sort of information nor lies like you have always done I recommend that you shut up because anyway you don't live in this beautiful country anymore so shut up and die silently I hope you don't get permission to vote in the next election you're not here anymore you have no status as Venezuelans you are a bunch of cowards

  2. Tacuave 06/17/2012

    in the Venezuelan "DICTATORSHIP"... a Jew can be elected President. In the Israeli "democracy", Arabs or Samaritans can only get to be Congress members... They are banned from running for president.

  3. TEODORO JLIAN DIAZ 05/19/2012

    POOR PEOPLE WHO SAY THERE IS A DICTATORSHIP IN VENEZUELA, SINCE THEY NEVER EXPERIENCED THE PEREZ JIMENEZ DICTATORSHIP, THEY HAVE NEVER LIVED IN VENEZUELA, THAT IS WHY THEY SAY WHAT THEY SAY. BUNCH OF BUREAUCRATS. THAT'S WHAT THEY ARE

  4. el guaro 11/26/2011

    I'm with my Commander, Chavez, until 2031 no matter whom it hurts

  5. Paulus 07/10/2011

    Well it is true... and I who live in one of these cities mentioned can tell you, the country's capital gave crazy HUGO a hard setback and I am referring to Tegucigalpa, where that gentleman never would have imagined that his defeat would come from there, when we unseated his little puppet president Manuel Zelaya... who did that crazy man think he is, he must have thought that because this is a small nation and not powerful we were going to do what he asked in exchange for a dozen rotten tractors he brought and a couple million energy saving lightbulbs that are worth nothing... So what I say is true that in the world we protest against that ignorant fool. In addition I want against that my ex girlfriend lives in Texas and she is Venezuelan and she, too, attended a protest against her little government. Others did it in Atlanta, San Pedro Sula, in Colombia and many other countries. Poor man I am sorry he got cancer but that disease generally affects people who are full of hate and intrigue, let him do what he wants in Venezuela but don't let him expect to come here to govern us.... Maybe he has people who support him but it is true that in the world we are constantly getting together to protest against him. I wish the best for the world PAULUS

  6. roberto 05/25/2011

    It is common for the pseudo socialists to stoop to insults. If it is such a paradise as they think why don't they emigrate in mass to Cuba or to China, or did they do it to the countries of the defunct European socialist block. The incapable ones, the lazy ones, those who want to live off of the work of others are the one who as a mass defend or support these dictator apprentices or true dictators. Study, work, develop your potential and then, if things don't change for you, bark.

  7. ccamargo 03/03/2011

    Those who gather in world capitals to protest against Commandant Chavez are criminals and corrupt persons who have raided the treasury and are fleeing from justice and from the people who are waiting for them to make them accountable. Why don't you come protest here on the streets of Caracas and you are cowards who go to the capitals of outlaw countries that protect you and give you a place to hide out

  8. rafael 02/07/2011

    THOSE WHO STILL BELIEVE THERE IS A SEPARATION OF POWERS IN VENEZUELA... READ THE NATIONAL CONSTITUTION ARTICLE 200 .. THEN WHAT'S GOING ON WITH MASUCO. I VOTED BASED ON THAT ARTICLE AND SO ... WHAT HAS HAPPENED..

  9. darlin arana 02/02/2011

    This article is false of all falseness. It is all to the contrary, they will gather in the main cities of several countries around the globe to show support for Commandant Chavez President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to commemorate the 12 years of our president's arrival to power granted legitimately by the people through democratic elections which he won with a majority. Don't continue to lie with respect to what happens in Venezuela. "Unto victory always"

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