What's President Obama got to do with the bloody protests in Venezuela?: Rally set for White House

More than 500 expected to demonstrate in Washington urging President to step into South American country's crisis

Barack Obama’s eyes are set on Ukraine and Russia, but there are foreign affairs matters closer to home that should remain a key focus.

More than 500 people are expected to rally outside the White House today urging him and his Government to lend his support and hear the call of freedom and respect for human rights in Venezuela on behalf of millions in the South American country who claim they are not being heard.

It has been nearly a year since Nicolás Maduro became president following the death of Hugo Chávez, but things have not gone smoothly. Maduro is seen by many Venezuelans as a puppet for the Castro brothers in Cuba, who are given around 80,000 barrels of oil a day for free. His tactics to calm the public, who have hit the streets in protests against scarcity and rampant crime, have seen him advance the date of the Christmas celebration in 2013, which many saw as an attempt to get him votes in the municipal elections on 8 December. Earlier this week, he declared an early start to the now week-long Carnival public holiday in effort to end the unrest.

However, in the eyes of many Venezuelans and natives living in the US, the violence has run from high to rampant in the past year. By the end of 2013 the rate of violent deaths was 79 per 100,000 population, representing 12 per cent of mortality in the country. Many in Venezuela feel unsafe and will not leave their homes after sunset. The situation is deteriorating with a crumbling economic crisis, shortages of food, medicines and other primary needs items.

In a speech earlier this week, Venezuela's Education Minister, Hector Rodríguez, said the Government did not want to bring people out of poverty because they could become middle class political opponents of the current regime. He said: “Not that we are going to get people out of poverty and bring them into the middle class, so that later they aspire to become ‘escuálidos’ [a popular Chavista term for political opponents].” Genesis Carmona taken to hospital on a motorcycle after being shot

At least 16 people have been killed since 12 February during peaceful protests and 33 reported violations against human rights. This has led to the Venezuelan community in America feeling scared for the future of its country, especially after hearing Maduro blaming the violence on protesters. Among those killed include Venezuelan beauty queen Genesis Carmona (above) who was shot in the head when she attended her first protest on 18 February.

Despite poor relations between Venezuela and the United States (three US diplomats were expelled last month), the US-based Venezuelans are urging Obama for help and claim he could hold the key. This morning they are rallying on the side of the White House sidewalk in desperation for this aid.

Eugenia González, who has helped co-ordinate today’s demonstration, said: “We’re going because we can. We have the right to have an opinion and voice it without being detained or shot for it. Our families, our children at home are being stripped from basic human rights from freedom of expression and peaceful assembly to not being tortured, arbitrarily arrested without due process. We’ll be there because we can be. They cannot.”

US-based Venezuelans have seen their anger increase due to the media censorship in their homeland, leading the opposition to resort to social media outlets such as Twitter, Youtube, and WhatsApp to post their evidential photos and videos to keep each other informed. This has included allegations of rampant attacks by government officials and armed collectives in residential areas, and tweeted pictures of missiles transiting streets.

Táchira-born Walter Herrera said: “We seek to reach out to international organisations that can intervene and impose sanctions on those who indignantly violate the human rights of the Venezuelan citizens.”

All eyes might be sighting west, but Venezuelans believe one eye should be on them and hope Obama can assist in restoring civil liberty in their country once again.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

Recruitment Genius: Developer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Account Manager - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing, ambitious, en...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future
Berlusconi's world of sleaze: The astonishing lifestyle once enjoyed by Italy's former PM

Berlusconi's world of sleaze

The astonishing lifestyle once enjoyed by Italy's former PM
Disney plans galactic domination with endless Star Wars spin-offs

Disney plans galactic domination with endless Star Wars spin-offs

Films and theme parks are just the beginning. Disney believes its control of the now decades-old franchise can bring in merchandise and marketing millions for years to come
Could the golden age of the gaming arcade ever be revived in the era of the Xbox?

Could gaming arcades be revived?

The days when coin-ops were the only way to play the latest video games are gone. But a small band of enthusiasts are keeping the button-pushing dream alive
Edinburgh Fringe 2015: The 'tampon tax' has inspired a new wave of female comedians to reclaim period jokes

Heard the one about menstruation?

Yes, if you have been at the Fringe, where period pieces are taking centre stage