Despite periodic downpours, thousands of government supporters gathered in the center of Caracas Friday morning to mark International Youth Day and defend the social gains of the Bolivarian Revolution achieved over the past 17 years.
The march took on a party atmosphere at times with loud music and dancing mixed in with periodic speakers, many of them representing youth organizations.
"This day is not only to tell Venezuela and public national opinion, but also internationally, that these young people assume the challenge of creating a productive Venezuela," socialist party youth coordinator Andreína Tarazón said over loudspeakers to the crowd. "We should know what our people are demanding, the agenda here is an economic agenda."
Youth organizations from around the country mobilized in the capital of Caracas to attend the march, with speakers coming from Venezuela's 23 states.
Organizers said they called on the concentration to celebrate several social gains in the country, specifically the democratization of education and cultural spaces. They also mentioned the massive construction and refurbishment of housing, schools and public spaces as reasons to celebrate.
"We can't turn back now. This is all we have. What would we do without this revolution?" | Source: teleSUR
“Today our youth take to the streets out of love for our country and to support President Nicolas Maduro," said 18 year-old Albert Chavez. "We are against the dirty tricks of the opposition bourgeois, against imperialism that wants to dominate us and meddle with our internal problems in the country."
The event came just under three weeks before an opposition scheduled march meant to pressure the country´s electoral council into speeding up a recall referendum against President Nicolas Maduro.
Many in attendance on Friday were quick to denounce what they call the political opposition´s disrespect for the country´s constitution and its state institutions like the electoral council.
On Wednesday the President of the National Electoral Council, Tibisay Lucena, denounced what she called pressures from certain groups that aim to force the body to set the referendum without regard to timelines established by precedent and the constitution.
At that news conference, Lucena laid out the timeline for the referendum, revealing several key dates of the process. However, it remains unclear whether any possible referendum willbe held before Jan. 10, 2017. That date remains key for opposition leaders because if voting is held after that date and Maduro loses, Vice President Aristobulo Isturiz will assume the presidency. If the process is carried out this year, new elections would be called.