Nearly 50,000 anti-government protests have taken place against socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela since he seized power in 2013, figures from the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict revealed Wednesday.
According to the agency, which examines a range of trends impacting Venezuelan society, around 35 anti-government protests took place every day over the course of 2018 and around 12,715 protests in total. This was a 30 percent increase from 2017, when the group documented 9,787 demonstrations total and a daily average of 27.
Nearly all of the protests were against Nicolás Maduro’s regime and his policies, as well as the appalling conditions that the majority of Venezuelans are now living in. Due to the dramatic collapse of the country’s economy under socialism, most people do not have adequate access to food, medicine, or consistent access to electricity. The situation has forced millions to flee the country, many of whom are in need of basic humanitarian assistance.
As noted by El Nacional, state security forces have met many of the larger demonstrations with violence and brutality, causing the deaths of hundreds of civilians. Government-backed groups have also stepped up their repression of political dissidents, mainly through intimidation and aggression towards community leaders and opposition politicians.
The official figure of 48,966 protests since 2013 does not account for demonstrations that happened in 2019, meaning the figure is likely closer to 50,000 or above. On Wednesday, the country held its largest nationwide protest in nearly two years, which led to the inauguration of opposition lawmaker and National Assembly president Juan Guaidó as the country’s legitimate president.
Venezuela’s opposition filling streets nationwide today in protests against President Maduro and his socialist government. pic.twitter.com/IjzXdd6aOh
— NBC News (@NBCNews) January 23, 2019
According to reports, at least seven people were killed by government security forces following Wednesday’s protests, while dozens more were left injured. A further 200 people were arrested by police, with fears that they may be assaulted or tortured by a regime known for its egregious human rights violations.
Despite the years of protests and demonstrations, widespread citizen activism has so far failed in its objective of removing the regime from power. The typical response of Maduro has been to downplay the significance of the movement, framing it as a right-wing coup against his presidency while using it as an opportunity to imprison opposition leaders on false charges of terrorism and undermining civil society.