After a university student was beaten and stripped naked by masked government supporters in Venezuela last week, outraged men and women have taken to social media to show their solidarity. They got naked, but on their own terms.
Using the hashtag #MejorDesnudosQue, translated as "Better Naked Than," many Venezuelans posted nude photos of themselves to express their disgust over the brutal crackdown on the months-long opposition protests in their country.
Beginning in February, Venezuelans took to the streets in frustration at spiraling inflation and high crime rates. Largely peaceful rallies were soon marked by increasing violence, with protesters blaming security forces and vigilantes for the deadly turn of events.
President Nicolás Maduro and opposition politicians agreed on Tuesday to hold talks in an attempt to defuse the crisis, in which at least 39 people have been killed, the Associated Press reported.
According to BBC Mundo, the social media protest was started by Ricardo Cie, an advertising executive in Caracas, after he saw a video of the student being assaulted on Central University of Venezuela (UCV) campus.
After Cie and his friends posted a group image, the hashtags #MejorDesnudosQue and #DesnudosConLaUCV (Naked with the Central University of Venezuela) started trending in Venezuela, the BBC reported.
— Ricardo Cie (@panamayor) April 5, 2014
The first to cry today #BetterToBeNaked than silent about the abuse.
Many Venezuelans then posted their own images, with slogans expressing frustration at the divisions and abuses in their country. Al Jazeera notes that government supporters tried to push back against the Better Naked Than posts, lampooning them as shameful.
Here are some of the Better Naked Than posts, with captions below.
— Margarita Ferreira (@Mardell_D) April 5, 2014
Better naked than humiliated and silenced by the violence in our Venezuela.
— Juan Alonso Molina (@tatomolina) April 5, 2014
Better naked than without hope.
— Isbelt Venegas (@Isbelt_Venegas) April 6, 2014
Better naked than dead, without education, without food, without culture, without dreams.
— Alfredo Pardo (@fredopar) April 5, 2014
Better naked than to allow the continued restriction of my rights.
— Shara Nápoli (@SharaNapoli) April 5, 2014
Better naked than fighting with my best friend because he is Chavista.
— Carlos Romero (@carlosdozzi) April 5, 2014
Better naked than with hatred and no future.