Several countries around the world are gearing up for Carnaval and Mardi Gras next week, but according to sources like The Washington Post on Thursday, protesters in Venezuela plan to "stay in the streets" not to party, but to keep demonstrating.
President Nicolas Maduro declared the six-say period between now and March 5 a national holiday. The decree tacks an extra two days onto the traditional holiday weekend (today and Friday), an unexpected move that appears to be an attempt to defuse demonstrations. Revelers are being encouraged on social media to remember #ConMaduroCarnavalSeguro (“a safe Carnaval with Maduro”).
This year's holiday also coincides with the one-year anniversary of the death of former president Hugo Chavez next Wednesday.
“As long as the government keeps up its repression, we’re not going to sit down,” student leader and Federacion de Centros Universitarios President Juan Requesens said.
Bloomberg notes that several members of the government's opposition in the Caracas neighborhood of Chacao held banners today urging people to continue protesting problems such as Venezuela's crime, inflation, and shortages instead of celebrating the holiday.
Still, some protesters like Maria Fernanda Riego, a economics student quoted at a rally in the capital, concede that not everyone will use the extended holiday to demonstrate against the government.
“We will keep fighting, but the majority might not,” she said. “Venezuelans are very fond of their holidays and this long Carnival is quite a temptation.”
At least 14 people have reportedly been killed within the last two weeks of demonstrations. Yesterday, Maduro was present at a "peace conference" in which both supporters and critics spoke, but members of the opposition boycotted the event.