The democracy movement in Venezuela

Isaac Casado is a One Young World Ambassador from Venezuela. In this blog he talks about the movements for democracy and the changing political situation in his country.

As a politically active Venezuelan young person, I believe that it is important to speak out about the situation in my country.

Venezuela has experienced just a few months of peace since the beginning of the “Bolivarian Revolution”, the name given by Hugo Chavez to the new Venezuelan Regime since he took power in 1999. Social and political conflict has become the daily reality of our country. In this new century, where development and the pursuit of human dignity has been the ambition of Latin America, my country is going in the opposite direction.

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This political process started with the regime of Hugo Chávez (1999-2013) and continues now with his successor, Nicolás Maduro, who was elected President after Chavez’ death in 2013, in an arguably questionable electoral process.

In addition, the government has a limited capacity to make the decisions that would solve the country's basic problems, and there is an obsession with deepening divisions between Venezuelans. This has resulted in an economic and political collapse in a country with the largest oil reserves in the world and which was once a shining example of democracy, development and modernization in Latin America.

Rising inflation, shortages of everyday products, unemployment, and the absence of opportunities for a better future have pushed over 1.6 million Venezuelans to emigrate seeking a better future. 

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Above: Sebastian Piñera addresses the media after police prevent him from speaking with Leopoldo López

The lack of commitment and absence of public policies for safety has made Venezuela one of the most violent countries in the world. With this deteriorating situation, the national coordinator of the political party Voluntad Popular (Popular Will), Leopoldo López, decided, along with others concerned members of society, to unite the claims of the people and to seek a peaceful way out of the crisis. Assemblies, rallies and peaceful protests were used as an attempt to transform the nation’s problems through a democratic process.

On February 12 2014, in commemoration of Youth Day, opposition groups decided to assemble and march. Early that afternoon, the protestors were attacked by police officers of and three people were killed. The tension has led to an environment of conflict that caused 43 deaths in the following months. The government blamed Leopoldo López for the events of the protests, accusing him of inciting violence with his rhetoric. On February 18 of that year, López turned himself over to the authorities so they would stop persecuting him.
 
Since, then violations of Leopoldo’s human rights, and of all Venezuelans, continue to rise and the country's problems remain unsolved. This video shows the events of the mass protests and ongoing violence in Venezuela.

I have personally been a part of Voluntad Popular’s political party since its foundation in 2009. From that moment, as a democracy activist, I have been working to build a better country. This is a dream I share with Leopoldo López and many others.

I am currently working with Leopoldo’s wife, Lilian Tintori, on her strategy team, helping her to raise our voice to enforce human rights in Venezuela and deliver our message around the world.

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In most recent events:

On 25th January, former Presidents Sebastian Piñera from Chile and Andres Pastrana from Colombia (One Young World Counsellor), came to our country to witness the situation with their own eyes, and to assess Leopoldo’s condition as a political prisoner of the regime. I had the opportunity to be there when ex-presidents Piñera and Pastrana were repressed by the army and the regime’s police. They were unable to enter the prison to visit Lopez on a day that is supposed to be free to visit someone in that situation. This demonstrated Lopez’ isolation and the violation of his human rights.

We are going stand and resist until we achieve our goal: a better Venezuela for every person in this country. As Leopoldo always said, we dream of a Venezuela where “every right belongs to every person.”

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