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Venezuela under fire over deaths of protestors

by Tegan Mazur - Copy Desk Chief
Tue, Sep 12th 2017 11:55 pm

Human rights may be inalienable, but they sure are open to restriction, am I right? Recently, the eye of the United Nations has turned to South America, Venezuela in particular, for an issue of just this sort of nature. The events unfold much as you might expect. Many citizens in Venezuela have been protesting since April. 

Their dissatisfaction stems from, according to the article, “Democracy 'barely alive' in Venezuela UN chief,” the “acute economic crisis” in the country and need for basic goods.

Since that began, according to the un.org article, “Human rights violations indicate repressive policy of Venezuelan authorities – UN report,” there are 124 deaths being investigated currently in regards to the protests, 46 of which can be attributed to government security forces.

The government being responsible for deaths due to protests, of course, raises a pretty big flag.However, before we get into the nitty gritty of it all, let’s not forget that the U.N. is not the shining hero of this story. I could spend this whole article just ragging on them, but this is about Venezuela.

Evidently, since April, things have gotten worse. People have died and according to the aforementioned un.org article, more than 5,000 people have been detained. So the question is, why? Well, I have to imagine the same reasons governments and citizens are usually at odds: a power struggle. 

When citizens hand off power to a government, it can be difficult to wrestle it back. Those in power wish to stay in power, it’s a recurring political theme, of course. It would be easy, especially in my nice cozy room in upstate New York, to say that the government is just trying to keep order because protests of this nature are rarely peaceful, but I think we all  know better.

Political unrest of this nature comes about, like in this country currently, because the government refuses to cooperate with its disgruntled citizens. You know, the people   they work for. According to the usnews.com article, “UN Report Urges Rights Council to Address Venezuela Violence,” journalists in Venezuela have also been targeted by the government. The 36 page report says the Venezuelan government has been using “systematic use of excessive force.”

Journalism and protesting are two fundamental ways to keep the government in check. When a government takes away the freedom to do both, there is a serious political disease striking that government, an issue that needs to be stamped out sooner rather than later. The U.S. certainly isn’t in the best shape politically either, so there isn’t much high ground to speak of, but that doesn’t make this issue in Venezuela any less in need of attention itself. 

I wish I could say that there’s nothing to worry about. After all, what is the U.N. for if not to bring light to issues like this and stop them? If only it was that easy. 

I doubt the U.N. will be marching into Venezuela anytime soon to help restore peace and control to the people. So, like many times in history, it appears that it is all up to the citizens.

Even at the end of this article it feels tempting to give the U.N. a pat on the back for calling attention to this issue. I certainly will say that it makes me feel a little better that there is some organization out there at least trying to care about human rights. Whether they can achieve any result is another story. 

However, I want to end this article to talk about the real ‘heroes’ of this story, the people of Venezuela. I cannot say I know what it is like to protest the government with the fear of death on your mind. 

I can, however, guess that it takes some people made of stronger stuff than me. Human rights violations are not an easy thing to fight and neither is a government, so hats off to those people brave enough to give big brother the finger.



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