Venezuelan Students Want Violence To End, Economy To Improve

Juan Requesens is one of the main leaders of the student movement in Venezuela. He says the student protesters are fighting for quality of life, justice, liberty and democracy.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Those demonstrations in Venezuela began with student protesters. Juan Requesens is one of the main leaders.

JUAN REQUESENS: The subject of the student movement is to ask for life's quality: for justice, for liberty, for democracy. The quality of life for the Venezuelan people is right now on the floor.

MONTAGNE: Requesens says he's open to a dialogue with President Maduro and his government, but not until the violence against the student protesters stops.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Now, Requesens doesn't deny that protesters have instigated at times by setting fires to block roads, but he says the government's response has been disproportionate.

REQUESENS: The government has been telling that because we put some blocks in the road, they can kill us. They can shoot us. I don't think that is constitutional, and it's a clear violation of the human rights.

MONTAGNE: The movement has a list of demands.

GREENE: They want the government to free jailed members of the opposition.

MONTAGNE: And to allow peaceful protests.

GREENE: Requesens says the end goal is not another revolution. It's also not to replace Maduro with the current opposition leader, Enrique Capriles.

REQUESENS: I don't care if it's Maduro, if it's Chavez, if it's Enrique. My problem is that this government don't make more abuse.

MONTAGNE: Until then, Juan Requesens says you can expect to find him marching in the streets.

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