What started as a protest early this month following a sexual assault at the University of the Andes in San Cristóbal has blown up into a massive political crisis in Venezuela, with no clear end in sight.
The assault set off the frustration of students with the country’s endemic crime problem. Local police responded aggressively, and their arrests and blithe mistreatment of protesters catalyzed demonstrations that have swept the country.
At least 14 people have been killed in clashes so far. Still recovering from a bitter, narrow loss to Maduro in the presidential election that followed Hugo Chávez’s death a year ago, opposition members have seized on the public’s disgruntlement—with the country’s security forces, its crippled economy, and the state’s abuse of power—as an opportunity to push much-needed reforms.
Now, weeks into this nascent resistance movement, the participants have determined that it’s time to state what it is they actually want.
Lists of demands have circulated online detailing measures “to get out of the crisis,” which range from the release of all detained protesters—of which there are at least 48, according to President Nicolas Maduro—to the disarmament and disbanding of paramilitary groups.