News

Venezuelans Protest Tyranny With Performance Art and Nude Selfies

by Laura C. Mallonee on April 15, 2014

(Screengrab via Twitter)

A man holds a sign that reads “De niño eran mis héroes. Ahora me reprimen.” (“As a child they were my heroes, now they repress me” (screengrab via Twitter)

A young man stands on a sidewalk in Caracas, Venezuela holding a sign that reads, “De niño eran mis héroes. Ahora me reprimen.” (“As a child they were my heroes, now they repress me”). Surrounding him, young men and women dressed in combat fatigues hold toy guns, their faces painted bright green. They’re dissenting against the Venezuelan government security forces’ bloody crackdowns on protesters. Since February, the attacks have killed 39 people and injured more than 600.

The performance protest was staged by Resistencia Une Arte, a group of students from the country’s National Experimental Art University — ironically founded by Hugo Chavez. A recent tweet from their Twitter account calls art their weapon. In recent weeks, they’ve appeared throughout the capital — in subways, public squares, and public malls — encouraging Venezuelans to take a stand against the country’s endless food shortages, rising crime, and poverty.

(Screengrab via Twitter)

(screengrab via Twitter)

Similar movements, together known as the Protesta Creativa (Creative Protest), have gathered momentum throughout Venezuela in the past two months. Artists have taken to the streets armed with brushes and paint buckets, braving risk and insult to cover walls and buildings with anti-government slogans and pleas for change. One mural in the northern city of Maracaibo reads, “La Violencia es el recurso del incompetente.” (“Violence is the resort of the incompetent”).

Words on a mural painted as part of the Protesta Creativa read, "Violence is the resort of the incompetent." (Image via Theily Reverol on flickr)

Words on a mural in the northern city of Maracaibo read, “Violence is the resort of the incompetent” (image via Theily Reverol on Flickr, used with permission)

13130295793_7a8d3b6e6a_z

This mural is a plea for tolerance, unity, and peace. (Image via Theily Reverol on Flickr, used with permission)

13130637965_ab9ce48229_z

“Live Without Fear” (image via Theily Reverol on Flickr, used with permission)

(Image via Theily Reverol on flickr)

“Those who die for life cannot be called dead” (image via Theily Reverol on flickr, and used with permission)

(Image via Theily Reverol on flickr)

(image via Theily Reverol on Flickr, used with permission)

(Image via Theily Reverol on flickr)

(image via Theily Reverol on Flickr, used with permission)

Visual social media protests have also emerged. After police publicly stripped a student activist at the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas, the publicist Ricardo Cie launched a nude selfie campaign on Twitter condemning the violence. Participants — including faculty and alumni of the university — bared all to express their solidarity with the victim, posting the resulting images with the hashtag #mejordesnudosque (#betternakedthan). The campaign comes just weeks after the government blocked a good chunk of the Internet, including Twitter.

These artistic and social media demonstrations offer a revealing look into a country that remains mysterious to many, and they have undoubtedly impacted its collective consciousness. But it is yet to be seen whether they will soften the heart of a government that doesn’t hesitate to use violence. Unfortunately, considering the country’s recent track record, it seems unlikely.

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 4.10.34 PM

(screengrab via Twitter)

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 4.09.12 PM

(screengrab via Twitter)

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  • crypticvalentin

    how is it ‘tyranny’ when elections have been held?..did you know more police have been killed than ‘protesters’?..

    “these protests have been orchestrated by the Right forces which want to get rid of the Maduro government. They are happening in rich neighbourhoods; the poor are not participating in them.”

  • Anabela Mendoza

    Dear crypticvalentin,

    Have you ever thought that in a country were there is no freedom of expression there can’t be any transparency in the election process? Have you ever wondered why are people doing this? Who is to say that “the poor” are not participation? do you live in Venezuela.

    We’ll, I do, or at least I lived there for the first 25 years of my life. This movement rejects insecurity, inflation, scarcity and freedom of expression and claims for human rights to be restored in Venezuela. Give me a reliable source that says that more policeman have been killed. The National Guards are fighting the people with guns and tanks while students protest with creative ideas such as this one. Do you really think these kids are killing policeman dressed as Military with toy guns, I truly doubt it.

    Your source is very ignorant by the way. Everything he says is half right and doesn’t analyze the entire picture. Everyone knows when there is a high demand for something and the product is scarce the price goes up. Basic cultural knowledge. People can’t import toilet paper because the government don’t give the dollars for people to import, they have basically killed national production by installing CADIVI (because it’s cheaper to import than to produce), but they don’t give the people dollars to import either, people from the government party or what we call “enchufados” (these are people that call themselves opposition but they work with the government and steal form the people). The result is scarcity is basic goods, so when you go to the supermarket to buy toilet paper there simply is non. And this happens with basically all the products. He says people were happy on November, this is not true. Of course there were people happy because Maduro forced people to lower the price on certain product so thing were “more affordable”, but what happens when you sell a product and you don’t gain enough money to replenish your inventory, they go bankrupt. The prices are high because even if you have legal dollars to buy certain products, you can’t go and pay rent or normal goods because everything is extremely pricy. This is a collapsed system. And by the way, he did this in late November and December, when people were buying Christmas presents and OH! a minor detail, ELECTIONS! This was really a election campaign and nothing else.

    I could spend hours here. But honestly, do your homework and read the economist, read the new yorker, read good sources, not some “economics professor” that is too blind to see the whole story and just accounts for a very primary analysis of the situation.

  • Dante Ali

    Everything “crypticvalentin” says (and every chavez-maduro supporter) is a lie, like every hardcore fanatic he choose ignorance and complicity towards the criminal chavez-maduro goverment and his actions, not only a lie but a shameful disrespect to the thousands of victims (direct victims) in 14 years of chavez gov and to those poor kids murdered by express order of the goverment in the streets and the other hundred thousand in exile and marginalized in and out the country. To me crypticvalentin and every chavista is as guilty as the sniper who shot those innocent kids who die dreaming with a free country and with a better future. Chavez-maduro and all their goverment is the exact opposite to what Venezuela needed a pseudo political totalitarian military organization who use mass media to idealize the former president and now his predecessor, This Government not only steal the people’s money from the banks vulgarly but use it to buy international political influence, they give away resources (Oil, money) that are much needed for the Venezuelan people living in poverty to other countries only to buy political complicity. Venezuela is a country without law or justice, there are no jobs, loans, life or justice of any kind to those who are not members of the single-party and that is a fact, or better put, there is only violence, dead, exile, marginalization to those who not surrender to the single party. As a victim myself living the hard life of an exiled (immigrant) my heart is with the families of those kids massacred by the maduro goverment. (Excuse my grammar non English Speaker)

  • Beau Toutant

    Because of the apparent interest and uproar on facebook*, perhaps hyper should present another article that researches and interviews the many sides and issues in this conflict. *ya know “hyper”, you might want to employ a little diplomacy with your readers

    • http://hragv.com/ Hrag Vartanian

      Agreed that there are many perspective, though we have explored others in past articles. The author is considering new articles.

  • crypticvalentin

    since Hitler was legally elected, all elections are invalid, because you say so?..

    • http://digmoto.com/ digmoto

      How could you possibly not understand my comment? how could I imply that all elections are invalid? that’s a very stupid understanding of that comment (no offense)…. What I meant was that just because Maduro was elected doesn’t mean it can’t turn into a tyranny and dictatorship. Also did you know there ARE elections in Cuba? Huh! but Castro ALWAYS wins, what a coincidence right?

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