Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, supported by, among others, student-led protests, have complained about the Venezuelan economy, shortages of goods, and government corruption. Four people have now died from the political unrest in the past week all against President Nicolas Maduro.
Now, Lopez, who is a Harvard educated economist has turned himself in to police. It appears to be a move to create more awareness of the plight of Venezuelans who want peaceful, democratic change in government. Lopez is wanted on murder and terrorism charges. Charges, he says, are politically motivated.
Still, student-led protests have multiplied across Venezuela. The students and others are demanding that President Madura resign. Yet, there are still Maduro supporters. Most fear that if the socialist party loses power, they will lose the basics and government funded welfare programs.
Many residents have stayed in their homes since the violence erupted last Wednesday with fatalities. Most of the schools remain closed as well. Opposition activists are claiming that students have been detained and tortured by the police controlled by Maduro. It remains to be seen how far this violence will go and whether the opposition can mount a credible threat to the Maduro government.
In the United States, particularly in South Florida, we are seeing an influx of Venezuelans wishing to distance themselves from the violence in their country. With the increase in politically motivated violence, we may see a spike in requests for political asylum from Venezuelans.