As Ukraine Dominates Headlines, Protests Continue in Venezuela

31 dead, hundreds injured


Although the ongoing crisis in Ukraine has been dominating international headlines recently, the protests in Venezuela—which have been going on for over a month and have resulted in the deaths of 31 people—are continuing.

What are the anti-government protesters upset about?

In Venezuela there is a lot to be frustrated and upset about: rampant corruption, one of the world's highest homicide rates, a lack of press freedom, hyperinflation, and food shortages.

As recent polling from Gallup shows, most Venezuelans do not see the economy getting better or feel safe:

However, while there may be plenty to complain about in Venezuela, the anti-government protesters are not a homogenous group, as CNN's Global Public Square explains:

On the one hand you have a moderate wing of protesters, a group whose leader narrowly lost out in the last elections. These protesters are looking for minor concessions from the government, as they bide their time for the next national vote. But a more vocal, even radical, wing of protesters has emerged in recent months, which have been calling for the overthrow of the President Nicholas Maduro. These calls have, of course, been the perfect excuse for a brutal government crackdown.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who succeeded Hugo Chavez, has blamed the ongoing unrest in Venezuela on "fascist groups."

Unsurprisingly, Maduro's government has cracked down on opposition leaders, as the AP explains:

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has used the military, legislative and judicial power consolidated during 15 years of socialist rule in a sudden series of blows against opponents who have spent more than a month protesting in the streets, knocking down their barricades and throwing dissident leaders in jail.

Thursday dawned with two more opposition politicians behind bars, one of them sentenced to more than 10 months in jail. And pro-government lawmakers had already started trying to put another outspoken critic behind bars as well, moving to strip an opposition congresswoman of her legislative immunity from prosecution.

Analysis and commentary:

Over at The New Yorker, Girish Gupta outlines the dire economic situation Venezuelans are facing.

Writing in the "Comment is Free" section of The Guardian's website, Mark Weisbrot argues that Venezuela is not Ukraine and that it "is far from the authoritarian state that most consumers of western media are led to believe."

British freelance journalist Jason Mitchell wrote in the Financial Times about the worsening situation in Venezuela and a death threat he received from a local paramilitary commander.

At The Washington Post Adam Taylor examined if Ukraine is getting more attention than Venezuela.

Writing in The Christian Science Monitor, David Smilde argues that the protests in Venezuela show that Maduro is no Chavez.

Read more from Reason on Venezuela here.