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The pandemic did not stop anti-Maduro protests: 8,000 street demos from March to December

On average, Venezuelans held 26 demonstrations every day during that period, demanding better living conditions, protesting violations of human rights as well as failures in all public services, the Venezuelan Observatory for Social Conflict, OVCS, reported Tuesday.

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There were 7,789 street protests in Venezuela between March and December 2020, despite the state of alarm decreed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which prevents, in theory, concentrations of people. That was the report by the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict (Ovcs) published this Tuesday.

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The balance points out that, during all of 2020, 9,633 demonstrations took place, despite the lockdown measures started to be in force since mid-March last when the country had detected the first cases of coronavirus infection.

“Neither COVID-19 nor the repression managed to stop the social protests. During the state of alarm, 81% of the protests were registered,” says the report, which places 2020 as the fourth most conflictive year of the last decade, a ten-year period during which 86,159 citizen demonstrations have been documented throughout the country.

However, pandemic and repression have taken their toll: the 2020 figure represents a decrease of 42% compared to 2019 when 16,739 protests were computed. That year, National Assembly President Juan Guaido claimed the mantle of interim President from Maduro, arguing that his 2018 reelection had been fraudulent.

Thus, during 2020 an average of 26 daily claims were registered related “to the demand for conditions that allow living with dignity, rejection of inefficient public policies and repudiation of the systematic violation of human rights,” says the Ovcs.

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“Venezuelan civil society has sought spaces and opportunities to stand firm and united, resisting the establishment of a dictatorial regime framed in repressive policies and social control,” continues the letter.

Amid the pandemic, there has been an “increase in social control by security agents and armed civilians.” But this has not prevented protests against the deficiencies in the health system, the high cost of food and hygiene products, the low purchasing power, the collapse of public services, and the shortage of gasoline, explains the Observatory.

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“Despite the risks of the pandemic, the needs of Venezuelans were bigger. Some citizens desisted from complying with the measures of social distancing and lockdown and took to the streets in protest to call the attention of the authorities,” the report stresses.

The total number of protests includes street and avenue closures, walks and rallies, activities that consist of groupings of people, which increases the risk of spreading COVID-19, which has left 1,154 deaths in the country.

Likewise, these demonstrations are mainly distributed in Sucre and Anzoategui coastal states, with 923 and 829 protests, respectively, while Caracas is in tenth place, with 600 street activities.

Information from EFE and DW.
Additional reporting by Carlos Camacho in Caracas.

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