The New York Times has published an op-ed penned by Nicolás Maduro, the beleaguered president of Venezuela, in which he blames the U.S. media for distorting the nature of the protests currently wreaking havoc in his country:
The claims that Venezuela has a deficient democracy and that current protests represent mainstream sentiment are belied by the facts. The antigovernment protests are being carried out by people in the wealthier segments of society who seek to reverse the gains of the democratic process that have benefited the vast majority of the people. Antigovernment protesters have physically attacked and damaged health care clinics … This is why the protests have received no support in poor and working-class neighborhoods. The protesters have a single goal: the unconstitutional ouster of the democratically elected government. Antigovernment leaders made this clear when they started the campaign in January, vowing to create chaos in the streets. Those with legitimate criticisms of economic conditions or the crime rate are being exploited by protest leaders with a violent, antidemocratic agenda.
Pres. Maduro recently accepted UNASUR’s offer to mediate talks between the government and protesters.