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Demonstration tries to raise awareness of Venezuela's deadly street protests

February 22, 2014|By Sameea Kamal, sameea.kamal@latimes.com
  • Demonstrators gathered Friday outside Disney Hall to hold a vigil for Venezuela, the native country of L.A. Phil conductor Gustavo Dudamel. (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)
Demonstrators gathered Friday outside Disney Hall to…

As massive demonstrations — some deadly — continued for the 10th day in Venezuela both in support of and against that country’s president, Nicolas Maduro, protests sprung up Saturday in the United States, including in La Cañada Flintridge.

“Our main purpose is not to encourage violent demonstrations in Venezuela. We just want the government to hear our pleas,” said Luis Carasquero, a 23-year-old USC graduate student and La Cañada resident.

“They’re living in a country where you don’t have rights, you don’t have toilet paper, you don’t have essential things and the government refuses to listen to their demands.”

The local event, held at Memorial Park, was set to coincide with the national “#SOSVenezuela” campaign, organized by a group of Venezuelans living in the United States called Jovenes Independientes — Independent Youth — from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in an effort to raise awareness about the situation.

Carasquero’s mother, Maria Ferrer, said she was particularly concerned about misinformation, as the Venezuelan government was denying access to news media and Twitter.

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About 10 people turned out for the protest, carrying signs, the country’s sports jerseys and with faces painted with red, yellow and blue to match the Venezuelan flags they carried.

La Cañada resident Tom Peitzman was one of the attendees.

“It’s been interesting finding out how many people are aware of what’s going on and how many people are not aware of what’s going on,” he said. “I think that’s what Luis is trying to do, just raise awareness. To let people know there are people out there who are struggling and suffering who don’t need to be, and I think it’s important to try and support causes like this.”

Carasquero heard about the campaign through Facebook and Twitter. While a larger demonstration was taking place in downtown Los Angeles, he decided to organize a local event where his friends and family could take part..

That included his grandfather, Luis Ferrer, who came to California from Venezuela a week ago in the midst of the civil unrest for a three-week visit with his wife.

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