Hundreds of young people camped out in front of Venezuela’s presidential palace over the weekend.
Supporters of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro camp outside Miraflores palace in Caracas
Many started setting up camp during the day Tuesday and spent much of the day and night in the same spot for the rest of the week. Leaders estimated over 700 youth participated and many traveled from states hours away to join the action.
The effort came as a response to a previous call by opposition politicians to direct a march to the presidential palace, the first time the right-wing opposition had made such a call since the failed coup attempt against the late President Hugo Chavez in 2002. The right-wing coalition later canceled its plans as part of a new dialogue effort with the government mediated by the Vatican.
“We are welcoming the recent installation of these national dialogue talks,” Andreina Tarazon told state channel VTV. “We believe that today the world needs to vote for peace.”
The camps not only took on a political tone but at times a festive one as Venezuelans prepare for the holiday season. Celebrations included live music, dancing and card games.
“We’ve been here for a few nights and we´re here to celebrate, but also to show that the opposition will not make it here,” said Johan Ribas outside of his tent, surrounded by other young leaders. “We will stay however long it takes if they keep threatening to come here. What they want is violence.”
Installing large encampments for young people has become a Chavista strategy to show the amount of youth who still support the socialist Bolivarian Revolution. Leaders also employed the tactic at the recent Non-Aligned Summit on Margarita Island. Foreign visitors were greeted by hundreds of young people in tents dressed in red and sporting pro-government logos.
Socialist youth leaders have promised to continue this tactic, deploying their supporters to set up encampments in different areas in Venezuela´s interior.
“This is a national strategy to show support for (President) Nicolas Maduro,” said Tarazon. “We will set up wherever this revolution needs support, however small the issue may seem.”
Despite the full Democratic Unity Roundtable’s cancellation of the provocative march to Miraflores on Nov. 3, some parties and opposition student groups continued with the plans. But instead of directing the crowd to the Miraflores palace, they ended the demonstration in front of the Vatican’s embassy in Caracas, turning over a document to a church representative.
The next round of talks between Maduro’s government and the opposition has been scheduled for Nov. 11. Opposition leaders have promised to abandon the talks and retake street protests should certain demands not be met quickly, in their attempts at holding the talks hostage.