Protests In Venezuela

What, Who, Why?

Protesters in Caracas, Venezuela

What is happening?!?!

These 2014 protests began as manifestations against Nicolas Maduro's government. According to Maduro, what is happening is an 'economic war' -- he blames capitalism and speculation to be spurring inflation and lack of basic products (such as food). On the other hand, protesters showcase the real reason: they are unsatisfied with the violation of human rights, lack of basic products due to inefficient foreign trade and high tariffs, and high levels of criminality.

The major characters in this conflict are Nicolas Maduro, Hugo Chavez (most precisely his death), and the protesters (who are mostly students and young people but also include workers and the middle class).

What caused it all to start?

The protests began in January when the ex-Miss Venezuela and her husband were robbed and murdered in the streets. Protesters came out against high criminality in the country at first. These protests happened to coincide with the holiday of 12 of February, Independence Day for venezuela and also known as National Youth Day, which helped bring out a lot of students to protest. Protests began to grow, moving away from the capital and into other cities.

Soon enough, militants and policemen (under the order of the government) began to violently oppress these peaceful demonstrations. By the end of February, 6 people were dead and almost 200 imprisoned. Both the protestants and the government blame each other for the escalating violence since then, and they are being severely effected. Venezuela's economy is plummeting.

Now, analyzing the situation through perspectives of sociology:

1) Functionalist view: Society is protesting because it is part of its function to demand the government to work efficiently and do the right thing. We expect the interaction of people and leaders  to function because societies in our world today work due to representation: we elect our officials to provide our interests and it is part of our function to complain or try to remove those who do not meet our expectations.

2) Conflict view: The whole situation is happening because of conflicting desires: society wants more safety and security, a better economy led by intelligent economists in both fiscal and monetary policy in the government, and less government protectionism and intervention; government officials want more money and power, and are seen as highly corrupt in this country. The conflict arises from the fact that Hugo Chávez, a leader hated by many and loved by more died and someone had to replace him. However, Maduro was unable to keep society at ease and this led to the protests. To augment the conflict, Maduro did not tolerate these demonstrations and sent police to repress and disperse those unsatisfied (its important to keep in mind that Venezuela is not a very democratic country).

3) Feminists view: This conflict is in essence a battle between two different socioeconomic classes: the rich and the poor (analogous to conflicts between men and women, blacks and whites, etc). The rich want to get richer and does so by promoting corruption, growth stagnation, and lavish corruption whereas the poor want a better quality of life, with decent police forces, healthcare, and etc. The protesters represent the working class and those being oppressed while the government represents the interest of the rich (who either are the politicians themselves or sponsored their campaign). Lastly, Maduro serves as an infamous leader that is seen by the poor to represent the rich.

What will happen next?

My prediction is that the government is not going to be overthrown. As we can see now, in April, uprisings have greatly reduced and the protests don't have the same intensity as they did in February. When people were killed and the whole world turned its eye to Venezuela, Maduro's government began to appease prisoners and attempt to show a image of a benevolent leader, which reduced tensions. I believe the same thing that happened in Brazil will repeat itself: the common people are going to eventually reduce protesting due to violence (promoted by the government itself) and will "forget" or leave dormant these revolutionary feelings.

- Gui Cavalcanti

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