Afro-Venezuelans and Colombians living in Venezuela are set to take to the streets this week in support of the government of President Nicolas Maduro and in defense of the South American country’s sovereignty, community representatives announced Monday.
On Tuesday, Venezuelan Afro-descendents will march beginning at 9:00 a.m. local time in the capital city Caracas from the central Diego Ibarra plaza to the presidential palace Miraflores.
The demonstration aimed at rejecting foreign interference in Venezuela’s affairs will also be a display of Afro-descendent culture, according to Venezuelan Vice President Aristobulo Isturiz.
Over half of Venezuela’s population is mixed race, around one-fifth is of European ancestry, one-tenth of African origin, and about 2 percent from Indigenous groups. Despite that diversity, Venezuela’s oil wealth and power structures have long been dominated by a minority, and mainly white, elite.
Meanwhile, the Association of Colombians in Venezuela has announced plans for a march in Caracas on Saturday in favor of the government’s immigration policies. The group announced the demonstration on Monday in conjunction with World Refugee Day.
According to official statistics, Venezuela is home to over 6,000 Colombian refugees, while an estimated 5.5 million Colombian nationals live in the country overall.
The marches come as political tensions continue to run high in Venezuela amid opposition calls to speed up the process toward a recall referendum against Maduro. Electoral authorities began validating signatures on petitions Monday, a precursor for the referendum.
Meanwhile, Venezuela gained overwhelming support in defense of its sovereignty after Organization of American States Chief Luis Almagro invoked the regional body’s Democratic Charter against the country.
The OAS Permanent Council is set to meet Tuesday in Washington at Venezuela’s request to review Almagro’s conduct.
The meeting will be followed on Thursday by a special session requested by Almagro to further address the situation in Venezuela and disputes between the government and the opposition over the proposed vote on Maduro’s mandate.
Venezuela called on Monday for Thursday’s meeting to be canceled, arguing in a letter that Almagro is “not entitled” to convene the gathering, AFP reported.
The recall referendum has become the center of political debate in Venezuela. The opposition argues that the authorities are trying to stall the process, while Maduro says people have every right to demand a vote as long as they wait to go through the proper procedures.