Student protests escalate in Caracas
Business as usual came to a halt in Caracas last week when university students staged city-wide protests in response to the National Assembly’s proposal to constitutionally enshrine “la reelección indefinida,” or indefinite congressional term limits. If passed, the proposal — la enmienda — would alter five fundamental articles of the Magna Carta, the Venezuelan constitution, and allow for all elected officials to hold office without restrictions. The enmienda was introduced late last year by President Chávez, and is currently in the second round of discussions.
In response to the enmienda, last Thursday students at the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello (UCAB) staged a campus protest that eventually fanned out into the Francisco Fajardo highway, where students distributed pamphlets and blocked traffic. Commenting on the protest, UCAB student Rafael Bello remarked that “We know the politicians won’t listen to us, but what we care about is that the people of Venezuela hear us.”
This morning, the government retaliated to last week’s protest by sending convoys and military units to the campuses of Caracas’ major universities. According to student accounts, the units have blocked traffic and distributed misleading information in an effort to obstruct normal university operations. Prior to last week, the most recent protest took place last October, when students marched in response to the murder of student leader and anti-Chavista Julio Soto.