Oklahomans Support Venezuelans During Peaceful Protest

Sunday, March 9th 2014, 6:34 pm
By: News 9

Tensions are high in Venezuela following a month of violent protests, many led by students, opposing the government there.

As many as 20 people have died in those protests so far and Oklahomans with family there are not only worried, but fed up with the situation. The group held a peaceful rally at Wiley Post Park in Oklahoma City on Sunday where nearly a hundred people stood up for a country that is far from peaceful.

"Maduro Out," the group shouted holding flags and signs in support of the citizens of Venezuela. They sent a clear message that they want Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro to go.

"The president is a liar," Daniela Borges of Oklahoma City said of President Maduro.

Borges says her entire family is still in Venezuela where a wave of violent protests hit the country last month, leaving at least 20 people dead. Those demonstrations involved many university students in the capital city of Caracas, demonstrations that especially hit home for Borges.

"My father got shot in a march eight times and all he said was that he wanted freedom and he wanted a better country," said Borges of her father, who survived the shooting, but later died of cancer.

The ongoing protests erupted mainly as a result of the high inflation rate that reached 56 percent last year and the fact the country has one of the highest murder rates in the world. Protestors at the rally say it's gotten so bad, that there is now a lack of basic goods such as gasoline and even food.

"The supermarkets are empty. We do not have food," Borges said. "He's [Maduro] trying to close everything down in order for Venezuelans to not be able to move."

One protestor, Maria Rios, sent News 9 pictures taken by her nephew in Venezuela showing the barricades Venezuelans have erected in an effort to keep the government troops out of their neighborhoods.

"I talked with my family almost every day, maybe twice a day," said Monica Inciarte Wakefield, Maria's sister, who now lives in Norman. "We're worried for their safety."

"It's an oppressive government. It's restrictive. You basically have to get permission to do anything," said James Wakefield of Norman, who attended Sunday's rally with his wife Monica.

It is an oppression these Oklahomans want to end, for a country they hold dear to their hearts.

"We're here to send a message, you know, that the people of Venezuela need help. Freedom needs to be restored," said James.

"Even though we are here, our heart is in Venezuela," said Monica.

The group has sent a letter to Gov. Mary Fallin's office asking for her support. Now, they are waiting on her response.