Venezuelan young people turn out on Youth Day for pro- and anti-gov’t marches

Caracas, Feb 12 (EFE).- Thousands of young members of the governing Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and other organizations allied with the Nicolas Maduro government on Sunday held a “huge tricolor march” in Caracas to celebrate the 209th anniversary of the Battle of La Victoria and Youth Day.

With flags, signs and slogans supporting the Maduro government, the marchers gathered starting early Sunday morning on a huge plaza in Caracas where about 500 opposition members earlier in the day had tried to assemble for a demonstration but where police denied them access.

The mobilization was headed by lawmaker Diosdado Cabello, the Chavismo movement’s No. 2 figure, who led the marchers to Miraflores Palace, the government seat, located in central Caracas.

Taking part in the march were young political leaders from all over the country and workers in public companies and state institutions, who had turned out to show their support for the revolution originally headed by the late President Hugo Chavez and now being continued by his protege, Maduro.

“We’re here to continue advancing, to continue fighting for our beautiful fatherland,” Cristal Alvarado, the national youth vice president for the Podemos party, a government ally, told EFE.

Daniel Borges, the head of the PSUV in central Carabobo state, noted the importance of the Battle of La Victoria for the consolidation of Venezuela’s independence and said that the young people were called upon to continue with that example of struggle.

“That 1814 (the year of the battle) fills us with dignity with that celebrated phrase: We cannot choose between victory or death; it is necessary to overcome,” Borges told EFE.

At Miraflores the marchers were welcomed by Maduro, who congratulated the participants, calling the huge march “impressive.”

Earlier, opposition youth leaders and members of student organizations gathered in the eastern part of the capital to demand that electoral authorities open up and facilitate voter registration.

The demonstrators had intended to march on the offices of the National Electoral Council on Plaza Venezuela but were not able to do so because police halted them near their destination.

Nevertheless, the leaders of the opposition march did meet with an electoral official who listened to their demands.

“We’re mobilized … to demand that the National Electoral Council give answers about … the Electoral Register, since voting is indispensable and necessary for the political and economic change that we need,” the president of the Federation of University Centers (FCU) at the Universidad Central de Venezuela, Jesus Mendoza, told EFE.

And the youth leader of Un Nuevo Tiempo, Jean Carlos Capozzi, told EFE that “We’re here on the street demanding the same thing we’ve always demanded, our right to be able to participate, our right to be able to vote, our right to be able to participate in the next elections.”

And in the western city of Maracaibo, a group of about 100 anti-Chavistas belonging to regional university movements also demonstrated to make the same demands.

The opposition members called a new protest for Monday, when they will again try to get to electoral headquarters to demand the opening of 1,500 registration centers for new voters before the 2024 presidential election.

EFE –/bp

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