Anti-government protests in Venezuela are not a new phenomenon, but they have flared up in recent weeks. Much like in Ukraine, a number of incredible photographs have emerged — massive crowds and violent clashes — but some of the most surreal are that of homemade gas masks protesters have donned to protect themselves from tear gas.
The protests, first started by hundreds of students, have since swelled to take over the streets of Caracas in defiance of President Nicolas Maduro. Much of their message centres on complaints of corruption, crime, and economic concerns, Reuters reports.
Sporadic protests have plagued Maduro’s government from the beginning, but the murder, in January, of a beloved television star and beauty queen, Monica Spear (along with her British husband), proved a turning point, highlighting Venezuela’s status as one of the most homicide-afflicted countries on earth and sparking demands that the government protect its citizens. “I want to live in a normal country. We’ve got to get these locos out of power,” said Nelvis, a former state employee now active in opposition marches who did not want her last name published.
Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez was arrested on Tuesday on charges of “fomenting unrest” that led to the deaths of at least four people, but that has only brought tens of thousands of his supporters onto the streets.
“The country’s situation is unsustainable,” filmmaker Jose Sahagun told Reuters. “The government’s mask has fallen off. This man (Maduro) has held power for 10 months and the deterioration has been fast.”
While they may look ridiculous, that doesn’t really matter. As one of Murphy’s laws states: “If it’s stupid but it works, it isn’t stupid.”
Here are the photos:
An earlier version of this article mentioned the protests as a “new phenomenon.” This has been corrected to say they are not new, but have flared up recently. We regret the error.
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