A recurring scene of the unrest happening in Venezuela is protesters protecting themselves with homemade shields painted with varying symbols and messages.
Even in the US city of Miami, someone placed one of these shields on the statue of Simón Bolívar, the national hero of Venezuela, as an artistic statement of protest.
The inspiration for the shields came from the 2014 Euromaidan movement in Ukraine, as told in the “Winter of Fire” documentary by the Russian director Evgeny Afineevsky. According to the Argentine journalist Viridiana Ramírez, the documentary has recently been screened in different public spaces in Caracas.
Online news channel Vivo Play reported on these shields and interviewed semiotics professor Humberto Valdivieso to understand their messages. Valdivieso described two types of shields: a “face” shield that shows the ideals that protesters stand for and a “mirror” shield that presents images of protesters’ opponents. The shields also carry religious symbols, which means that they're supposed to protect those using them not only with the material they're made of but also through divine protection. There are symbols specific to Venezuelan culture as well as symbols that are more transcendental:
…En las manifestaciones ocurridas en Venezuela desde el 1º de abril se han hecho presentes lo que [Valdivieso] califica como “escudos rostro” y “escudos espejo”. Los escudos rostro son aquellos ideales por los cuales los manifestantes luchan y es la representación del individuo que lo sujeta y del grupo al que defiende como una especie de máscara. Estos son los escudos que tienen mensajes lingüísticos como “democracia” “resistencia” y “libertad” “justicia” y “paz”. También lo son los que tienen las imágenes de la Constitución, la cruz de los templarios, a Simón Bolívar, imágenes religiosas, la bandera de Venezuela tradicional [con siete estrellas y no ocho como fuera dispuesto por el ex-presidente Hugo Chávez] y el negro como señal de luto.
… The shields that [Valdivieso] describes as “face shields” and “mirror shields” have been used in the demonstrations that have taken place in Venezuela since April 1. The shield represents both the individual holding it and the group that it’s defending. These are the shields with linguistic messages like “democracy”, “resistance” and “freedom”, “justice” and “peace”. So are those shields that have images of the Constitution, the Templars’ Cross, Simón Bolívar, religious images, the traditional Venezuelan flag [with seven stars and not eight, as mandated by former President Hugo Chávez] and black as a sign of mourning.