19 May 2016 - 10:50 AM
Protests in Venezuela: The Roots of Unrest
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Venezuela saw opposition-sponsored protests against the socialist government of Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday, pushing for a recall referendum to happen this year so that Maduro can be removed from office.

Opposition protesters clash with Venezuelan police on Mar 18, 2016.

Between 1,000 and 2,000 opposition protesters were reported to have lined up to march to the center of Venezuela's capital, Caracas, near the National Electoral Council (CNE). The opposition is pushing to have the CNE validate the 1.85 million names on the petition to initiate a recall vote on Maduro, which was submitted May 2.

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But near the CNE, about 1,500 people gathered in an impromptu pro-government rally as the Plaza Venezuela, in the geographic center of Caracas, witnessed two separate groups rallying in support of Maduro and the Bolivarian revolution. The numbers, while slightly smaller than those of the opposition, were considerable considering the short notice given to organize the rally.

Iain Bruce, teleSUR English's correspondent in Caracas, reported that the opposition were not granted permission to rally by the capital's mayor due to the fact that they "always cause violence."

The mayor was right. The opposition demonstrators attacked police officers who were blocking their path, resulting in injuries to five officers, Noticias 24 reports.

Venezuela is certainly facing troubles, especially in the area of food. These challenges are fueling some Venezuelans to join in the opposition's call for Maduro's ouster.

However, the roots of the problem date back to the early days of capitalist opposition to Chavez's socialist revolution.

Bankers and other elites have long toyed with the exchange rate of Venezuela's currency, doing everything in their power to circumvent government regulations on the import of goods and U.S. dollars.

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Food is easily found in supermarkets, but prices are out of control due to wild inflation rates caused by the elite's unsanctioned import of foreign currency. At the same time, they are the ones able to afford the inflated prices on goods, which are then sold with price increases sometimes between 30 and 40 times their original cost.

The parallel market is the root of many of the grievances of the Venezuelan people, and at the same time, the opposition take advantage of the discontent.

Many Venezuelans recognize this, and continue to lend their support to the Maduro government, which has long fought for the poor people of the nation whose lives are negatively affected by the economic malfeasance of the opposition.

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