UCF students raising awareness about violence in Venezuela - FOX 35 News Orlando

UCF students raising awareness about violence in Venezuela

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A group of students at the University of Central Florida are protesting a recent outbreak of violence in the country of Venezuela. 

They blame Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for a lagging economy and a outbreak of crime and fighting, his biggest challenges since taking office after the death last year of his predecessor Hugo Chávez.

This month, opponents of Maduro have been staging countrywide protests that the government says have left at least 15 people dead and wounded about 150.

"If students in Venezuela exercised their freedom of speech like UCF students, they would go to jail. That's why these Knights are giving them a voice with a stroke of a marker, a piece of tape, and a hashtag 'SOS Venezuela,'" said student Ana Roosen. 

The UCF Student Government Association (SGA) hosted an event Tuesday afternoon to let people know how the Venezuelan government is arresting and even killing some peaceful protesters.

"The [Venezuelan] government has taken over pretty much everything we own, our freedom of speech," said UCF Senior Ana Roosen. "All my friends and family over there are fighting and going out on the streets doing peaceful protests."

"I think the least we can do is to educate people and let everyone know and spread the word," said SGA Senator Sia Mohammadalipoor.

Students filled out cards with their name, where they are from, and a pledge to support Venezuela.

"I personally had a similar experience when that happened in Iran after elections," said Mohammadalipoor.

William Diaz is part of local Venezuelan group. He says more than 25,000 Venezuelans live in Central Florida.

"As we're talking here, we know somebody is dying over there right now," said Diaz, Director of Casa De Venezuela.
He met with Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, on Tuesday afternoon.

"I'm on the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives and Latin American subcommittee of the House.  I have co-sponsored a resolution to condemn the violence and call on everyone to respect the rights of individuals," said Congressman Grayson. "First, we're calling upon on other countries in the hemisphere to condemn the violence.  Second, we're warning the perpetrators that they can be subject to legal action before the International Court of Criminal Justice. Third, we ultimately have to consider sanctions against the government."

Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio has also denounced the violence in Venezuela.

"By the way, these are all students in the street," said Mohammadalipoor of the protesters in Venezuela.

More events are planned. Organizers said they will continue to hope for peace in Venezuela.

The Obama administration said Tuesday that it has expelled three Venezuelan diplomats in response to similar action against three U.S. consular officials in Caracas.

"President Maduro needs to focus on addressing the legitimate grievances of the Venezuelan people through meaningful dialogue with them, not through dialogue with the United States," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

Though violent protests have died down, the situation in Venezuela remains tense. Opposition protesters erected barricades to block traffic on major streets in Caracas and elsewhere Monday but there were no major clashes.


Information taken from FoxNews.com.

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