Locals support Venezuela

Stand Up for Venezuela outside TELUS Science World on March 2.

Despite the rain, protesters from Stand Up Venezuela gathered outside TELUS Science World on March 2 in solidarity with those facing turmoil in Venezuela.

Standing up for human rights and justice

Stand Up Venezuela is a Vancouver-based organization aiming to protest and raise awareness towards a range of issues in the country including: the incarceration of Venezuelan students, insecurity, corruption, and shortages of basic goods in the country.

“We are civilians standing up for human rights, justice and the separation of powers in Venezuela,” said member Laura Aveledo.

Since Feb. 12 Venezuela has been racked by civil unrest following a protest by students which quickly gained momentum. Isabel Cristina, one of the protest coordinators, said that Stand Up Venezuela started in Vancouver.“We’re just a group of Venezuelans and we decided we wanted something a little more organized in terms of how to bring people to protest,” she said.

Jessie Smith, an instructor and coordinator of Latin studies, said that the issues being addressed are not new.“It’s the polarization in Venezuela that is important,” Smith said.

She described Venezuelans as being divided almost in half between government support and dissent. Aveledo shares Smith’s view, adding that events have reached their breaking point.

“Students have an issue, because they do not see any future for them,” Aveledo adds.

Cristina recalled watching the first protest. “Myself and another friend . . . saw how terrible the first protest was,” she said.  “After that me and my friend figured we needed to do something here.”

Censorship in Venezuela

Building awareness is important for those in Stand Up Venezuela because of the censorship they have seen within the country by the government, Cristina said.“Since there is no media, it’s all been transmitted through Twitter and social media,” Cristina said.  She added that as part of the censorship, the Oscars were not to be transmitted in Venezuela.

However, Smith encouraged careful consideration when viewing social media in a case like this.  She said that there has been some controversy surrounding some photos from other conflicts being labelled as Venezuelan.

“You have to be very critical of what you see when you use social media because people are free to lie,” Smith said. “There’s no editor. There’s no official body, in theory, to ensure people are being truthful.”

Reported by Graham McFie

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