CARACAS, VENEZUELA - “With support from MF Emergency Fund, I am continuing work on my project about the causes and consequences of violence in Venezuela. My explorations of the current situation in Caracas, San Cristobal and other cities in Venezuela have helped me understand the close relationship between the everyday violence that stifles the country – the thousands of murders, robberies and kidnappings per year – and the rise of political extremism. San Cristobal is now the forefront of a political struggle and clashes between government forces and opposition activists.
Although it is not a “popular revolt,” there is a widespread, diverse, organized movement made up of progressive center-leftists, traditional parties, and extreme right wing activists. The opposition aims to garner media attention to portray what is happening in the country to show Venezuelans that things are far from normal.
The situation in San Cristobal has gone from bad to worse. The elevated middle class of this Andean city is completely blocked off by a solid system of barricades that can reach up to three meters high. The protesters organize themselves into teams to defend their “free zone.” With stones, Molotov cocktails, and homemade explosive devices they spend all night vigilantly patrolling the streets; violent skirmishes have taken the lives of 38 people to date.
Amidst the turmoil, the opposition is primarily made up of a group of young people, some of them practically kids, who demand social progress and who are fighting, with little guidance, for goals they don’t completely understand. Many of them have the conviction and the motivation, despite a government that sees them as the enemy. They continue to fight solely for the right to be heard.“