|"Peace and Freedom" by Aramis Fraino|
On February 12, 2014 a national youth day in Venezuela student protesters were shot in the head and killed by government agents. Robert Redman, Neyder Arellano Sierra y Bassil Alejandro Da Costa were all extra-judicially executed by collectives and officials of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (Sebin) in an effort, apparently to use terror, to shutdown the nonviolent student marches. Others were tortured and one of the young detainees was raped with an assault rifle. The killings and torture did not have the impact that regime officials had calculated. The protests did not stop and they did not turn violent. Students and opposition leaders maintained their commitment to nonviolence.
“We are not going to give in or kneel. We are going to continue in the streets, fighting for Venezuelans and the youths who want a democratic country, with free media that aren’t censored or self-censored, with justice and equity.” - Juan Requesen, student leader at the Universidad Central de Venezuela.The Maduro regime called opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez a terrorist and a murderer for calling for nonviolent protests. They spread rumors that he had fled the country. However, on February 18, 2014 in a gathering with several hundred thousand people, Leopoldo Lopez hanging on to a statue of Jose Marti in Caracas addressed the mass gathering and turned himself in to the Maduro regime but not before issuing a call to nonviolent resistance:
"Well brothers and sisters I ask you to continue in this fight and do not leave the street, to assume our right to protest, but to do it in peace and without violence, I ask that us, all of us that are here, all of the Venezuelans that want a change, to get informed, educated, organized, and to execute non-violent protests, the protests of masses, and the will of souls and hearts that want to change, but without hurting your neighbor."Twenty one days later he remains unjustly imprisoned but continues to speak out for justice, freedom and nonviolent resistance as the means to secure the resignation of those responsible for the killings, torture and impunity. Leopoldo prior to his arrest on February 17, 2014 sent His Holiness Pope Francisco a letter requesting that he address the situation in Venezuela and Pope Francisco made a public pronouncement on February 26, 2014 on the situation in Venezuela. That same day tens of thousands of women took to the streets dressed in white across Venezuela protesting against the violence and for the fallen, the tortured and the imprisoned.
On February 18, 2014, a 22 year old student, Génesis Carmona, was attending her first demonstration carrying a poster that read: "God's time is perfect but if we don't go out into the streets, the time of Maduro will be eternal." She was shot in the head by a Maduro government agent and died two days later from her injuries.
The national student movement is a heterogeneous movement with a diverse leadership that has agreement on nonviolent means to achieve democratic ends have made several pronouncements over the past month explaining the reasons for their protests along with calls for new protest.
The presence of the Castro regime's repressive apparatus in Venezuela has inflamed nationalist passions and led to Cuban flags being burned and protests held at the Cuban embassy. Meanwhile, Cubans in the internal democratic opposition and in the diaspora have demonstrated their solidarity with the democratic aspirations of the Venezuelan people holding vigils for victims of the Castro regime in Cuba and Venezuela.
Twenty two people have been killed, hundreds injured and over a thousand detained over the past month, but later today on March 12, 2014 the students will again be taking to the street to protest and demand an end to the violence and justice for the dead, tortured, and unjustly imprisoned. From his prison cell, Leopoldo Lopez was able to reach out to his wife and she relayed his message of continued resistance last night over twitter.
The nonviolent struggle for Venezuela's future continues. Please share the video below with others and spread the word.