|Student nonviolently faces off with a security vehicle holding up a flag|
These students are facing a government that over the past fourteen years has been stripping Venezuela's democracy of all its constitutional and institutional democratic safeguards in order to consolidate power into the United Socialist Party of Venezuela and in the presidency. At the same time the presence of both Cuban state security and military officials in the country who have presided over the building of a totalitarian apparatus is cause for great concern. They have used technological tools to censor images over twitter. Over the past 14 years independent television press outlets have been taken over or shutdown by the government. Only the social media remain and outside media sources. Both have been blocked by the Maduro government during these demonstrations.
|Students marching in Venezuela for their freedom|
|Brutal repression against students in Venezuela|
Their best chance of success in achieving their goals is maintaining the nonviolent character of their movement along with coherent tactics and an overall strategy that will take them to where they want to go. Gene Sharp, a scholar of nonviolent resistance asserts that nonviolence is not an unarmed struggle but one that relies on different tools than those used in violence:
"I say nonviolent struggle is armed struggle. And we have to take back that term from those advocates of violence who seek to justify with pretty words that kind of combat. Only with this type of struggle one fights with psychological weapons, social weapons, economic weapons and political weapons. And that this is ultimately more powerful against oppression, injustice and tyranny then violence."Sharp also observes that "using violence is a stupid decision." This is because paradoxically the more brutal the regime the more successful nonviolent movements are in confronting them when compared to violent movements. Furthermore nonviolent movements can succeed without the aide of outside powers, states or interests but violent movements depend on outside support to succeed. When comparing rates of success over the past century nonviolence comes out on top.
My prayers, solidarity, thoughts and best wishes are with the student movement in Venezuela.