Thousands of Venezuelans plan a protest against state of country

Thousands of Venezuelans plan to take to the streets on Saturday to express their “indignation” at Nicolás Maduro’s regime and the country’s serious economic, political and social crisis on a protest organized directly by demonstrators, without direct participation of opposition leaders.

The demonstrators, who plan to protest in more than 55 cities, said that the event not only seeks to express the Venezuelans’ frustration over problems like the growing scarcity of goods, the out-of-control inflation and personal insecurity, but also over Maduro’s intentions to implement a political-economic model similar to the one existing in Cuba.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that inflation in Venezuela has surged above 50 percent as a plunge in the value of the currency deters investment and makes basic goods harder to find.

The “Marcha Autoconvocada” (Self-convened March) also carries a strong message against the top leadership of the opposition, considered by many to be bland toward an anti-democratic regime, said political consultant Esteban Gerbasi.

“The Marcha Autoconvocada’s purpose is precisely to demonstrate to Maduro and the opposition leadership that their time is up and that now the way out is taking to the streets,” said Gerbasi, who has been promoting the event through social networks.

“The march proves the lack of leadership in the opposition, which is not responding to the Venezuelan people that is suffering the permanent humiliation of having to get into fistfights at supermarkets to buy a packet of corn flour or a kilo of sugar,” he added.

The protest is being promoted through social networks, especially Twitter, where thousands of people are in turn announcing the event using hashtags like #9N y #9Nprimeramarchaautoconvocada.

The first one, #9N, shows a lot of movement through Twitter, with peaks as high as 4,000 retweets every hour.

Some opposition leaders have expressed their support for the initiative, including former opposition pre-candidates Leopoldo López and María Corina Machado.

But the government has also taken note of the call to protest.

“They are summoning an event on November 9,” Maduro said this week. “These are the pro-coup, right-wing fascists of the opposition calling for what they have named the self-convened march and saying, ‘That day is as far as Maduro goes, that day is as far as the revolution goes.’”

“The Venezuelan opposition wants to organize a series of big events that would have a negative impact on the economic and social life and on the country’s peace in an attempt to have the 8-D election suspended,” he said.

Promoters of the event, however, insist in that the population is organizing the march without direct participation of politicians from the opposition.

“It’s the people self-convening themselves to prove to Maduro that we are not afraid to go out and express our discontent in the face of a serious moral, political and social crisis,” said cyber-activist @LucioQuincioC in a telephone interview.

“This is not to favor any political sector. What we want is to be on record that in Venezuela, people are angry and they wish a different country,” he said. “A country with medicines and food, a country not subjected to shameless public theft by corrupted officials. In Venezuela, citizens are nauseated.”

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