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#12F (also known as #12FVenezuelaPaLaCalle) refers to an ongoing series of protests in Venezuela against the socialist government led by Nicolás Maduro, who succeeded the long-time dictator Hugo Chavez as the president in 2013. The protests first broke out in the capital city of Caracas in early January 2014 after actress and former Miss Venezuela Monica Spear was killed, alongside her ex-husband, by unknown assailants during a roadside robbery.
On April 14th, 2013, Nicholas Maduro defeated Capriles Radonski, the runner-up candidate of the opposition, by a tight margin of 1.5% of the vote. Maduro’s victory in the election was soon seeded with accusations of fraud and intimidation of voters, as the opposition candidate Radonski also refused to accept the results on the grounds of election irregularities. The legitimacy of the vote count was subsequently audited by The National Electoral Council (NEC), which found no evidence of foul play and confirmed Maduro’s electoral victory.
On February 2nd, 2014, Venezuela’s opposition leaders Leopoldo López, María Corina Machado and Antonio Ledezma called on people via Twitter to march together on February 12th to coincide with the National Youth Day of Venezuela. The main reasons behind the protests have been attributed to alleged violation of civil rights, chronic scarcity of basic goods and high levels of criminal violence. For the fiscal year of 2013, the inflation rate in Venezuela was 56.2% and the scarcity index was 20%.
As the news of Monica Spear’s death quickly spread across the country, many Venezuelan news outlets raised concerns over the escalating violence and crime rate, which soon became the catalyst giving rise to the protests across the rest of the country. In February 2014, the wave of protests continued to spread across the rest of Venezuela, under organization by María Corina Machado and Leopoldo López, the leaders of the Venezuelan opposition, along with the university students. Many social networks expressed their anger against the regime and support for students.
Bassil Da Costa´s Death
During the protests, a students identified as Bassil Da Costa, was shot in the head, allegedly by a policeman. Roberto Redman, the man who helps Dacosta, died three hours later, in the Chacao’s municipality. Someone uploaded a video showing the moment of his death:
News Media Coverage
The media in Venezuela had a difficult time covering the protests since many news reporters have had their equipment stolen, or destroyed by government forces and feel threatened. The Colombian channel NTN24 was taken off air at the public cable service, according to the Venezuelan government this was because they want to repeat the coup of 2002.
Leopoldo Lopez´s Arrest
The opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, submitted a video in which he says he is going to turn himself in to the authorities during a protest on Tuesday 18th.