SF State students linked hands with hundreds of demonstrators to form a human chain on the Golden Gate Bridge today in solidarity for mass anti-government protests in Venezuela that have plunged the South American country into turmoil.
Around 300 people marched across the Golden Gate Bridge, dressed in all white, or the red, yellow and blue colors of Venezuelan flag, as drivers honked their horns in support.
“We are trying to let the people protesting in Venezuela know that they’re not alone even though we are far away,” said Laura Wilches, a Venezuelan SF State student at the demonstration.
Recent protests have turned violent in several Venezuelan states between supporters and those in opposition of President Nicolas Maduro. So far the protests have left 10 dead and more than 100 people injured.
“There is a desire for a purer, more transparent democracy in Venezuela, a better economic system and a respect for basic human rights,” said Ricardo Ron, one of the organizers of the demonstration.
Maduro was elected in April 2013 shortly after the death of Socialist President Hugo Chavez. Critics are demanding his resignation, due to increased violence in the country, high inflation and the suppression of political opponents.
“I feel like Venezuela is experiencing an awakening,” said Thamar Ramirez, a Venezuelan native who is visiting San Francisco. “I praise god that Venezuela is finally demanding its liberty.”
In an attempt to quash protests, the government has reportedly shut down the internet in many major cities.
On Friday, the Venezuelan government revoked press credentials for a team of CNN journalists and threatened to expel them from the country for their coverage of the anti-government protests. Maduro later rescinded the threat allowing the journalists to continue reporting in the country.
“I hope that this will bring the change that Venezuela needs. The country cannot be prosperous with the misery and pain that it is currently experiencing,” said Ramirez.