Venezuelans living and working in Barbados took to the street today in a peaceful protest to show solidarity with their countrymen back home, who are demonstrating against “a lack of” peace, security and democracy.
A group of about 30 placard-bearing people picketed outside the Venezuelan Embassy in Hastings, Christ Church, for more than an hour, calling on their government to restore the country to democracy, free jailed demonstrators, disarm the para-military organisation known as “The Collectives” and do away with impunity, particularly for those responsible for the deaths and injuries inflicted on peaceful protestors on February 12.
A five-point plan for peace is also demanding responsibility from the representatives of public office and respect for the armed forces of Venezuela. It also calls for a stop to accusations without evidence.
“Does Barbados know what is happening to Venezuela? Does Barbados know that Venezuela has had ten days of protests on the street? People protesting against insecurity; people protesting because mothers cannot find powdered milk in the supermarket for their children; wives cannot find soap and oil?” asked spokesman for the protestors outside the local embassy, Jose Enrique Zerpa.
“My wife is in Venezuela for personal reasons and she had to take four days to do her shopping. They can’t find toilet paper; a child goes out on an evening to a party of a reunion, you don’t know she is going to come back; 200 dead average per weekend in Venezuela from murders, from drug-related incidents from gangs; 200,000 dead over the last 15 years in a democratic government,” Zerpa told Barbados TODAY.
He said these deaths represented more than in Afghanistan or Syria in war.
“Why are we here? Because we care about our country. We believe in Venezuela. Venezuela is not 581 miles south west of Barbados. Venezuela is in our hearts. We have had confirmed so far, three dead in the protest march in Venezuela this week, more than 16 injured, hundreds of people in jail. So why are we here? Because we want Venezuelans to know we care,” asserted Zerpa.
He said many people in Venezuela itself do not know what is happening in their own country because the government has censored the media.
The spokesman stated that some people back home got to know what was happening when a protestor tweeted to one of those in Barbados and they in turn fed back information home.
Zerpa suggested that there was currently 56 per cent inflation in his country and 28 per cent lack of items in the supermarkets.
“What do I want from my government? To respect human rights. To respect what the constitution of Venezuela says. Each person has right to stand up and protest and issue his opinion. If you say black and I say white, and I do not agree with you and I take up a two-by-four and slap you ‘cross the side of your head, we are not dialoguing, we are conflictive, and that is what is happening to my country,” declared the concerned Venezuelan resident in Barbados.
No one from the Venezuelan Embassy could be seen while the protestors sang and shouted in Spanish and displayed their placards near the compound.
Special Branch police were also present and kept a close eye on proceedings, but had no reason to intervene, as protests remained peaceful.