Thursday, September 24, 2020

Venezuelans Protested over 700 Times in August over Lack of Food, Fuel, Water

Desperate Venezuelans took to the streets close to 750 times last month, for around 30 protests per day, according to an analysis from the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict published Monday.

The analysis found that over 300 of the protests were a response to the lack of access to basic public services such as household gas and electricity and drinking water. Restrictions imposed by the Maduro regime because of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic exacerbated the trend.

Around 40 percent of protests were linked to chronic fuel shortages, which have plagued the country over recent years despite having the second-largest known oil reserves in the world following America. The socialist government has heavily subsidized gasoline since Hugo Chávez rose to power in 1998, to the point of it effectively being free. However, shortages have forced authorities to ramp up prices, making it unaffordable for most people.

The report documented 229 protests related to anger over the deterioration of overall living conditions, including the meager minimum wage of just a few dollars a month, which does not cover the most basic of food products. A further 114 protests concerned a lack of access to health care and collapsing infrastructure, potentially endangering people’s lives.

Overall, around 94 percent of the protests can be attributed to a lack of social rights, the Observatory noted. However, the number of overall protests is down around four percent compared with August last year.

Although the protests are regular and widespread, Venezuela has not experienced the mass anti-government demonstrations of recent years, mainly as a result of the lockdown measures imposed by authorities. Another factor in the lack of large-scale protests is a collapse in morale and motivation from the establishment opposition, whose leader, Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó, has failed to provide solutions to remove the Maduro regime from power.

The protests are also evidence of the continuing deterioration of Venezuelan society, in which a majority of the population is now living in extreme poverty without access to the most basic resources such as food, health, power, and even education. The country is now widely regarded as being in the midst of one of the world’s most severe economic and humanitarian crises, leading to a migratory exodus that has now surpassed that caused by the Syrian Civil War.

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Ben Kew

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