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Caridad: If I had the chance to choose what my next life would be like, I’d like to be water. If I had the chance to eliminate a worst aspect of the world I would erase fear. Of all the human feelings I most like I prefer friendship. I was born in the year of the first Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, the day that Gay Pride is celebrated around the world. I no longer live on the east side of Havana; I’m trying to make a go of it in Caracas, and I continue to defend my right to do what I want and not what society expects of me.

Two Venezuelas and the Urgent Need for One Peace

February 25, 2014 | Print Print |

Caridad

Viover y los piraos.

HAVANA TIMES — I would venture to say that, this past week, Venezuela made the international news more times than it normally does in an entire year, despite the fact the country has been quite unstable over the past few months.

On February 19 – I simply have to mention this – Simon Diaz, one of Venezuela’s symbols, author of Caballo viejo (“Old Horse”) and La vaca mariposa (“The Butterfly Cow”), the renowned storyteller from the plains, the poet of nostalgia and nature, departed from this world.

There’s also been at least 4 earth tremors in the country’s western and eastern regions. No significant damages have been reported following these, but the news is cause for concern.

The leader of Venezuela’s Voluntad Popular (“People’s Will”) party Leopoldo Lopez handed himself over to authorities in Chacaito, to the east of Caracas, after delivering a speech to a crowd that had gathered at Francisco de Miranda Avenue, next to a statue of Cuban independence hero Jose Marti.

Diosdado Cabello, the president of the National Assembly, personally saw that Lopez was taken into custody, referring to strong suspicions regarding a possible attempt on his life.

The tug-of-war surrounding CNN’s accreditation has, for the time being, ended with the return of the news channel’s credentials.

Finally, there’s the main course, what many people with kind hearts who are immensely bored are waiting for: for a civil war to break out and for Venezuelans to start killing one another.

Mural in a Venezuelan school.

No, things haven’t reached such extremes yet, though thousands of photos and videos suggesting otherwise flood social networks, news channels and newspapers, showing less-than-reliable, poor quality images (most taken with mobile phones at night) and some false ones, documenting other events (some of which didn’t even take place in Venezuela).

Though the protests have been going on for 12 consecutive days, the protesters haven’t managed to convince the majority of Venezuelans – supportive of the government or not – to join them.

Incidentally, these protests, or guarimbas, as they are popularly known, are far from peaceful. This is the main reason the movement, which calls for the resignation of President Nicolas Maduro, is so unpopular.

Several peaceful marches or gatherings have been organized by those who support the government and those who oppose it, at least in Caracas. The problems have come later, when groups of disaffected people who champion more extreme measures to rid Venezuela of its current government are left on the streets, unchecked.

Every night, small groups of people take to the streets to set up barricades and close off streets with waste and burning garbage. This is most common in several districts to the east of Caracas, where the opposition is reportedly the majority.

Things have gradually heated up. A retired general, surnamed Vivas, went on Twitter to give the idea of tightened strands of barbed wire across the city’s avenues to prevent –or defend themselves from- the pro-government motorizados and the National Guard.

Of course, anyone traveling at night at an average speed can be severely injured by these wires. This has actually happened, and two people have been killed by these fences. A number of photos showing the general in his garden, well-armed so as to resist a possible arrest for having suggested the idea, have circulated around the Internet.

Every night, the National Guard and police take to the streets to take down the barricades and clamp down on those who are building them. In these cat-and-mouse games – and other similar campaigns undertaken in other states – several people have been killed owing to the excess force of military officers or protesters. There’s also been hundreds of injured and many arrests.

Caracas

Some armed groups are also being accused of killing protesters.

Do the protesters have any political platform?

No one has made any pronouncement in this connection to date. People merely say they are protesting against a lack of safety and to get Maduro out of office. Opposition leaders Maria Corina Machado and Henrique Capriles have continued to encourage protests. During the last two days, Capriles has insisted that closing off streets in the neighborhoods where protesters live and simply bothering neighbors is pointless, that things have to be taken to the next level, to the main neighborhoods, such as 23 de enero.

All the while, the government continues to sound like a broken record with its headlines about “fascist hordes.”

It’s true that, behind this chaos, there is no such chaos, but a well-defined aim: Venezuela’s oil and mineral and water reserves. It is also true, however, that the country’s insecurity has damaged society; that people have gradually gotten used to waiting in line to buy things and to the shortage of many basic products. It is also true that the governing party has been plagued by corruption for many years now and that it’s become more and more difficult to run a private business.

The government continues to lay its bets on the country’s division into the patriots who support it and the bourgeois fascists who oppose it. Its discourse has become stagnant, as has that of the opposition leadership.

There appears to be no prospect of dialogue among high level leaders.

All the while, most Venezuelans are growing tired of so much black smoke and barricaded streets, of stray bullets and pellets that hurt or kill someone, of extremist pronouncements and the manipulation of the media.

Most Venezuelans want peace and, if the government is unable to overcome the country’s economic and social crisis, for it to be resolved in a constitutional manner.


What's your opinion?

  • John Goodrich

    It will be interesting to see what shakes out when all the turbulence ends in Venezuela , meaning how deeply were the CIA, USAID and other secret U.S. government agencies involved in the planning and financing of the anti-government protests there.
    .
    This is the problem with half a revolution or a slow-motion revolution.
    Like in the U.S., the two sides in the Venezuelan contretemps are never going to agree on basics.
    Like in the U.S., it is the vast majority of the poor who are on one side and the rich and those moronic poor who side with them on the other .
    Absent a U.S. -style or Cuban -style revolution where you kick-out that 10% or so who are the rabid ,die-hard supporters of the losing side, the Venezuelans will keep the very hostile wealthy and the corporations alongside their socialist -style reforms and this will guarantee civil unrest for the future .
    You can bet the ranch that the U.S. government is up to its ears in doing what it can to make Venezuela look bad.
    It’s what U.S. foreign policy is all about .
    Socialism is a direct and existential threat to worldwide capitalism and the U.S . has always been involved in overthrowing any socialist movement it can .

  • John Goodrich

    For excellent coverage of the events in Venezuela and coverage that is far different from what you get from the mainstream/corporate media and U.S. government sources , I highly recommend Venezuelanalysis , ZNet and Tom Dispatch .
    I believe that if you compare the information at these sites with what you’re getting from your usual corporate media sources, you will be amazed at the difference.
    I leave it to the reader to decide where the truth is to be found.

  • Griffin

    It’s not “stray” bullets and pellets that are killing people. These weapons are being deliberately used by the thugs of the Maduro regime to target civilian protesters and spread terror.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=EFS6cP9auDc

    • Think Free

      Maduro has lost the public. Only a matter of time before he is removed by his own people to be replaced by a more competent leader. If you are going be a socialist, you at least need to be competent about it to keep the faith of the people. Fear based leadership only takes you so far. It can establish operational control but it can’t build a productive society with expanding standards of living.

      • John Goodrich

        Chavez’s programs which are being continued by Maduro cut the poverty rate in Venezuela in half .
        It’s why the majority of the people of Venezuela who are poor support Maduro and why the wealthy oppose him .

  • Moses Patterson

    The math is simple: The US purchases 40% of Venezuelan market rate crude oil. This represents, however, less than 5% of the crude processed for US consumption. The US retains the option of limiting or stopping altogether the purchase of Venezuelan oil as a means of putting pressure on the Maduro regime. Venezuelan oil could be easily replaced with Saudi oil so such an action would have little impact on the US but would reduce the $100 billion in annual oil revenues Venezuela earns to less than $50 billion. Other oil revenues Venezuela receives are from subsidized oil sales to CARICOM and China. Moreover, at least 20% of Venezuela’s processed petroleum products are from the US. As human rights abuses continue in Venezuela, the time may come to consider sanctions against this increasingly tyrannical regime.

    • Griffin

      Tell your Obama to approve Keystone XL pipeline and he can have all the fine ethical Canadian oil America wants. There’s no need to get your oil from thugs, terrorists or tyrants.

      • Moses Patterson

        Seems like a no-brainer but environmentalists make a strong case for caution. I would think that precautions could be taken to mitigate the risks but apparently the people who oppose the pipeline are still not satisfied.

  • Moses Patterson

    Check your facts JG. Obama garnered 51.1% to Romney’s 47.2%, a margin of victory of 3.9%. Maduro squeezed by with only a 1.49% margin over Capriles. China is Venezuela’s #2 oil customer however more than 89% of Venezuelan oil bound for China is in lieu of loan payments on billions of dollars in loans the Chinese have extended to Venezuela. There is an agreement between the two countries that any increase in oil deliveries to China would be used to accelerate loan payments as opposed to an exchange for hard currency. Don’t be naïve, if Chavez could have cut the US off entirely and sold his oil to China or anybody else for needed hard currency, he would have surely already done that. Venezuela is a member of several international oil consortiums or cartels and there are internal agreements between members that must be addressed before Venezuela could just sell to another country. These ‘other’ countries are currently someone else’s customer and violating these cartel agreements is unheard of. Finally, further proof that you have no idea about what you are talking about, because of the recent fall in oil prices and the expansion of known reserves, Venezuela is losing not gaining clout in the world oil markets. The Russian partners who have worked with Venezuela in the past are increasing uncomfortable with the low reinvestment rates and Venezuela is busy shopping the world for new partners. Despite the largest known reserves in the world and an abundant supply of high-quality crude, Venezuela’s PdVSA has done a horrible job managing the country’s most enviable resource.

    • informed Consent

      Math, stats, figures….not JGs forte, which probably explains his way way out there ideas

      • John Goodrich

        You guys have a very deep problem with democracy.
        The Venezuelan people voted in Maduro .
        He therefore earned the right to govern his country.
        Were you and the U.S. government not opposed to socialism and socialist style reforms , Maduro’s service as president would not be on your mind.
        Venezuela has enough oil and therefore money to survive any attacks from the far right both inside and outside the country.
        The days of enforcing the Monroe Doctrine are over and
        as a direct consequence, Latin America is clearly heading toward the democratic future so feared by the GOUSA.

  • Moses Patterson

    Check your facts JG. Obama garnered 51.1% to Romney’s 47.2%, a margin of victory of 3.9%. Maduro squeezed by with only a 1.49% margin over Capriles. China is Venezuela’s #2 oil customer however more than 89% of Venezuelan oil bound for China is in lieu of loan payments on billions of dollars in loans the Chinese have extended to Venezuela. There is an agreement between the two countries that any increase in oil deliveries to China would be used to accelerate loan payments as opposed to an exchange for hard currency. Don’t be naïve, if Chavez could have cut the US off entirely and sold his oil to China or anybody else for needed hard currency, he would have surely already done that. Venezuela is a member of several international oil consortiums or cartels and there are internal agreements between members that must be addressed before Venezuela could just sell to another country. These ‘other’ countries are currently someone else’s customer and violating these cartel agreements is unheard of. Finally, further proof that you have no idea about what you are talking about, because of the recent fall in oil prices and the expansion of known reserves, Venezuela is losing not gaining clout in the world oil markets. The Russian partners who have worked with Venezuela in the past are increasing uncomfortable with the low reinvestment rates and Venezuela is busy shopping the world for new partners. Despite the largest known reserves in the world and an abundant supply of high-quality crude, Venezuela’s PdVSA has done a horrible job managing the country’s most enviable resource.

  • Griffin

    Imprisoned Venezuelan Opposition Leader’s letter to His Holiness Pope Francis

    “With deep admiration and full of humility, I ask your blessings to the people of Venezuela in moments of profound difficulty for all Venezuelans hit by the most severe economic crisis, by insecurity accompanied by unleashed impunity and the loss increasingly accelerated of our freedoms for all Venezuelans, especially those of us who have contrary thoughts to those who govern today.”

    http://cubanexilequarter.blogspot.ca/2014/02/imprisoned-venezuelan-opposition.html

    • John Goodrich

      The wealthy, who make up most of the opposition to Maduro’s government ,are on the Pope’s Shit List… as are all capitalists .
      The Pope in all likelihood will be working with Maduro who helps the poor and not with the wealthy .
      This IS a class struggle between the few wealthy and the many poor and Pope Francis has already said which side he’s on.
      He’s a real Christian and,, as such, MUST side with the poor.

  • Think Free

    It does not end well for Maduro and his cabal. These totalitarian socialist experiments just don’t work out. It is sad that people are not permitted to just be free. To earn there own way in a fair and just system that does not reward the well connected rent seekers.

    • John Goodrich

      Think Free ,
      Maduro was elected in an internationally recognized free and fair election .
      He serves just as Obama does after he won his free and fair election.
      The country , much like the USA and other capitalists countries are split between the rich and the poor .
      In Venezuela , the poor far outnumber the few rich who are behind the anti-government demonstrations and it is the working class and poor who support Maduro as they did Chavez.
      Maduro’s supporters are the clear majority in Venezuela and no matter what theopposition says or does, Maduro is the DEMOCRATIC choice of the country .
      If the MAJORITY of the country doesn’t like him or his policies, they can vote him out .
      The rich minority can only take power in a coup and they already failed once at that even with U.S. help.
      So you need to get over your apparent distaste for democracy in Venezuela because the majority of Venezuelans do not see things the way you or the GOUSA do and will keep their democratically elected government.