Venezuela’s Got 99 Problems, and Political Upheaval is One of Many

As an oil-rich country, Venezuela is no stranger to controversy. However, the focus has momentarily shifted to youth-led political protests.

The famous words “Remember, remember the fifth of November,” taken from songs and poems used to commemorate Guy Fawkes Day in Great Britain, seem applicable to Venezuela’s recent political unrest. Guy Fawkes and his iconic mask have become symbols for freedom fighting and movements against social and political corruption.

This November, Venezuela is still grappling with recent political upheaval and protests. Thousands of Venezuelan youth and supporters of the United Socialist Part of Venezuela (PSUV) participated in an organized march and protest in the South American nation’s capital, Caracas, on October 18 against political terrorism and corruption, and to promote peace.

The youth protest was a direct response to the assassination of Rovert Serra, a 27-year-old PSUV parliamentarian and Chavista, who supported the ideals of Venezuela’s former president Hugo Chávez. Serra and his partner, Maria Herrera, were stabbed to death in Serra’s residence in the La Pastora neighborhood of Caracas on October 1.

The pro-government demonstrators, including Venezuela’s own president Nicholas Maduro, endured torrential downpours of rain that drenched attendees while they stood in solidarity. The youth protesters filled the streets sporting Chavista red, demanding that government lawmakers officially declare the assassination of Serra and his partner an act of terrorism. Many were carrying signs stating “Venezuela against terrorism” and “Venezuela against fascist paramilitarism” in order to reinforce their message to the National Assembly.

Government officials believe the brutal assassination may be linked to a right-wing Colombian paramilitary operation that is possibly tied to elements of the Venezuelan opposition. The government claims all eight men involved in the assassination of Serra and his partner have been identified. Two of the men, including Serra’s own former bodyguard, are in custody and have confessed their role in the murders. However, the right-wing opposition continues to define Serra’s murder as a random act of violence.

Like many South American countries, Venezuela is a nation of die-hard soccer aficionados. Studies have shown that children who participate in sports, such as soccer, have higher self-esteem than those who do not. As a soccer-loving country, it’s common for youths to begin playing soccer as a child, and continue playing the sport leisurely throughout their adulthood. This passion for soccer, as well as the fervor in which youths rallied together for peace during last week’s protests, are similar in that they demonstrate the resilience of Venezuela’s people in the face hardship and adversity.

The political unrest in Venezuela is reflective of continued political debates in the United States, as Americans head to the polls for the midterm elections. Young Americans, particularly millennials and 20-somethings, are using social media in order to take a more active role in politics and government than generations past, in ways that were once impossible. This is also reflective of recent youth-led protests in Hong Kong, where the younger generation — too young to remember British rule — are fighting to make their voices heard.

It seems that power of the people lies with its youth and future generations.