Families gripped by violence in Venezuela and Ukraine

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by ALISON MORROW / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @AlisonMorrowTV

KING5.com

Posted on February 21, 2014 at 7:52 AM

Violence erupted Thursday in two countries that are 6,000 miles apart, but share a very similar story.

The mass movement in Kiev, Ukraine is as dense as it is complicated, and yet it seems so simple when 6-year-old Emilia Bilobran draws it.

"People fighting and the police fighting," she said, pointing to her Crayon picture. "Because that is actually what is really happening."

After a brief truce, Ukrainian security forces opened fire on antigovernment protestors. Some estimate it was the deadliest day since Soviet times.

"Of course I'm constantly checking if any of those people are my friends or my family," said Emilia's mom, Oksana.

6,000 miles and an entire hemisphere away, the images are nearly identical.

"We are in danger. We are getting killed!" cried Marilena Capella.

"What everybody wants is for that government to get out," added her husband Yamani Gabriel Blanco.

In several regions of Venezuela violence erupted Thursday as crowds of mostly students demanded that socialist President Nicolas Maduro resign.

The death toll is estimated at around a half-dozen.

Of the thousands of deaths due to robberies and kidnappings calculated prior to the protests, Capella says only a few are ever prosecuted.

Her family, she says, lives amid chaos under a government many no longer trust.

Most of the images from Venezuela have arisen on social media sites like Twitter, some plea for ambulances to help injured civilians. Videos show government security forces laughing while using fire hoses on handcuffed prisoners.

Capella says her family has virtually no access to news sources because the government has shut down internet and cable sites.

A Venezuelan-American produced this video and asks others to share: 

"We are Venezuelan's voice right now," Capella said. "There's no food. There's no medicine. There's no security. You get robbed and you get killed."

Capella rarely sleeps, constantly surfing social media websites and news coverage of her country.

Just like little Emilia's mom. She's waiting to see the result of 3-month-long protests aimed at the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych, accused of usurping power to such a degree that the country's run more like a dictatorship.

"Democracy, right? Everyone in America takes it for granted," Oksana said. "And we will never be the same anymore."

Perhaps not everyone takes it for granted, however.

Emilia wraps her Barbie dolls in tissue paper head scarves so they're dressed properly to pray. It's a child's prayer shared by adults across the world.

"We need help. We really need help," Capella said. "It's my blood. It's my people."

Venezuelans are planning a protest near the Space Needle at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Ukrainians plan to hold one Sunday afternoon at Seattle Center.

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