18 February 2014, 20:13

Venezuelans stage rival protests as unrest deepens

By Brittany Peterson

WASHINGTON (VR)—Venezuela heats up Tuesday as another wave of rival protests sweep the country. The issue? Should the democratically elected president stay or go. VOR's Brittany Peterson has more.

Rival protests unfold in Venezeula's capital of Caracas today, as unrest deepens in the wake of anti-government demonstrations. A student was killed Tuesday morning, raising the death toll to four in the last week. The opposition, who are protesting high inflation and rampant crime, have said they will not leave the streets until President Nicolas Maduro leaves office. Government supporters have in turn staged what they call "anti-fascist" rallies.

Tuesday, fugitive opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez turned himself in to authorities under charges of murder and "terrorism" for encouraging the demonstrations on February 12, 2014, where three people died. 

Steve Ellner joins us from Barcelona, Venezuela, east of Caracas, to shed light on the meaning of these demonstrations is joining us from. He is a professor at the Oriente University in Puerto La Cruz and has authored a number of books on Venezuela, including the forthcoming "Latin America's Radical Left."

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Ellner explained that the opposition is divided when it comes to the form in which they oppose Maduro.

"You have to make a distinction between Lopez and...Maria Corina Machado, those two leaders have a different discourse than other leaders of the opposition because they call for what we know in the states as regime change...that position has been questioned by other leaders, even Henrique Capriles, who was the candidate of the opposition in the presidential elections in 2012. He has criticized Lopez by saying the slogan can't be a "change of government." The slogan has to be focused on specific problems," said Ellner. 

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