Venezuelan students gathered in front of the bell tower Tuesday in solidarity with thousands worldwide against the recent and allegedly corrupt election of Venezuela’s President-elect Nicolas Maduro.
Biological engineering senior Stephanie Linares and friends decided to stage a protest on campus with other Venezuelan and international students. As she and her friends at the University were planning their demonstration Monday night, citizens of Caracas, Venezuela, gathered outside and banged their pots and pans together to make a political statement on the recount.
Another demonstration will be held at 6 p.m. this evening in front of the bell tower.
Sabrina Kassab, digital art senior, said the event also happened in cities with large Venezuelan populations in the U.S.
“It kept going and showed how the people are responding to the situation,” Kassab said.
Linares said although other Latin-American nations have recognized Maduro, under the new Venezuelan constitution, citizens have a right to a recount.
United Socialists Party candidate Maduro won with 50.8 percent of the vote while Henrique Capriles Radonski of the Justice First party won 49 percent in Sunday’s election, according to Venezuela National Electoral Council.
“There is no way they counted the votes from the exterior in such a short time period,” Linares said.
Kent Mathewson, geography and anthropology professor, said Maduro was Chávez’s groomed protégé.
“Maduro was a trade union activist who became Chavez’s designated heir apparent,” Mathewson said.
Kassab said the protest was also about generating awareness.
The group wants to show all sides of the story, Linares said.
Though the turnout numbers were weak, Linares said she was happy with the support of the University community.
She said families with children, members of the Baton Rouge community and international students attended the event.
The event showed support and sympathy from the Latin American community at the University, said Gabriel Rivera, biological engineering junior.
“It’s not only happening in Venezuela. It’s happening everywhere in Latin America,” Rivera said.
Mathewson said Chávez’s policies of countering the privatization of government services, providing services to the poor and antagonism toward the upper middle class created a polarized society.
Ultimately, Linares said she hopes the support leads to action.
“Mainly our goal was support,” Linares said. “We are thinking about signing an online petition.”
The petition will urge the White House to pressure the Venezuelan government to recount the votes.