GCAS Interventions: Clashes in the Streets of Venezuela

What is behind the violent clashes that have been taking place in the streets of Venezuela? This and other questions will be discussed with a panel of scholars and activists.


Last week at least four people have been killed, including a government supporter, an opposition demonstrator and a police officer, after thousands of Venezuelans opposing President Nicolas Maduro took to the streets of Caracas following two weeks of anti-government protests across the country. Last Wednesday’s protest, organised by students and hardline opposition members, was the biggest faced by Maduro since he was elected nearly a year ago following the death of his mentor, Hugo Chávez.

Pro-government supporters countered with a march of their own to express support for Maduro, who has accused opponents of trying to violently oust him from power just two months after his party’s candidates prevailed by a landslide in mayoral elections.

The mayhem comes on the heels of generally peaceful marches held on the 200th anniversary of the battle of La Victoria, a battle in which students played a critical role in a victory against royalist forces during Venezuela’s war of independence. While some groups of students marched in celebration of the Day of the Student, anti-government demonstrators used the occasion to protest episodic shortages of some basic goods, persistent crime, and to demand the release of students who had been arrested in earlier demonstrations.

In Venezuela, the media war and the contest over how to portray the demonstrations and violence is already at full throttle. A mounting number of Chavistas in the government and among the popular sectors fault ultra-right wing leader of the Voluntad Popular party, Leopoldo López, for inciting much of the violence. The right wing figure, who played a role in the short-lived coup against former President Hugo Chavez in 2002, has been calling for more demonstrations and for the “exit” of Maduro from the government, blaming government repression by the national guard for the violence.

What is behind the violent clashes that have been taking place in the streets of Venezuela? What is the historical context of the recent manifestion of discontent by the opposition? Which forces and classes are involved and what is their character? Is the Maduro government legitimate and to what extent does it represent its people? Where is the Bolivarian Revolution going? What needs to be done to bring further progress? What are the obstacles that need to be overcome? These and other questions will be discussed with a panel of scholars and activists. Join us live in an attempt to answer them.

SPEAKERS (confirmed): Prof. George Ciccariello-Maher (Assistant Professor at Drexel University’s Department of History & Politics, a leading expert on Venezuela and author of ” We Created Chávez: A People’s History of the Venezuelan Revolution“), Prof. Alejandro Velasco (Historian of modern Latin America whose research and teaching interests are in the areas of Social movements, Urban Culture and Democratization), Prof. Íñigo Errejón (PhD in Political Science from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Director of the Political Identities research line at the GIS XXI Foundation, former Activist in Spain’s Movimiento 15M and currently teaching in Venezuela) and Tamara Pearson (Activist in Merida, Venezuela, supporter of the Bolivarian Revolution, including as a spokesperson for her Communal Council, collaborator in an alternative education project and a contributor to Venezuelanalysis.com)