Motorcyclists swarmed the capital of Venezuela to protest the government’s proposed curfew on two-wheelers. One of several proposed measures aimed at cracking down on violent crime, the curfew would ban the use of motorcycles after 7 p.m.
The Venezuelan government is under intense pressure to increase public security. Watchdog group Observatorio Venezolano de Violencia reports the country’s murder rate has quadrupled since Hugo Chavez took power in 1998, reaching a toll of 24,000 in 2013.
The concerns about crime intensified after Monica Spear, a former Miss Venezuela, and her ex-husband were gunned down on Jan. 9. In reaction, the government supported various proposals including the motorcycle curfew because two-wheelers are frequently used as escape vehicles by robbers and assassins in Venezuela.
Motorcyclists are understandably enraged by the proposal, arguing it unfairly targets all riders because of the criminal actions of a few.
“A delinquent can move by foot, on motorcycle or in a Hummer,” motorcycle taxi driver Ivan Contreras tells the Associated Press. “There’s no need to punish everyone for the actions of a few black sheep.”
The protest was fairly peaceful, with about 2,000 motorcycles swarming the Caracas. Protesters avoided disrupting traffic, instead staying focused around a slum on the eastern outskirts of the capital.
“Boys, behave. Today we’re not going to take anything from anyone,” Ricardo Vargas, one of the protest’s leaders, was heard telling other riders. “Use a helmet. Stop at every light.”