by Fausta Rodríguez Wertz
Yesterday’s massive demonstrations in Venezuela were eclipsed by the bloody suppression of demonstrators in the Ukraine.
To summarize yesterday’s events, hundreds of thousands gathered peacefully in Caracas and other cities to protest the Chavista Communist regime’s rationing, lack of freedoms, and lack of security.
Unarmed students have been demonstrating for over a week, resulting in four dead and dozens wounded. The government charged opposition leader Leopoldo López with inciting terrorism and issued an arrest warrant. López convened yesterday’s demonstration and turned himself in.
Following López’s arrest, the government issued warrants for the arrest of two other opposition leaders, Carlos Vecchio, Leopoldo Lopez’s party leader, and Assemblywoman Maria Corina Machado.
Most international media have completely ignored the Venezuelan events of the past weeks. The Venezuelan government, which controls all the country’s media, blacked out DirectTV and other TV channels, including (briefly) NTN24, which broadcasts from neighboring Colombia on a YouTube livestream, and (also briefly) Twitter.
Following his arrest, López’s wife released a video (in Spanish) they made where
he gives instructions as to how carry on the fight under a dictatorship that has sequestered all media: we all must become a media.
Indeed, most of the photos and reports come via Twitter, with the hashtags #18F, #18FResistencia, #Venezuela, #ResistenciaVzla, #SOSVenezuela, and #LaSalida.
Venezuela’s a country clearly in the path to ruin: exchange controls cripple the economy as oil production plunges. Cuba controls the military and homeland security. Venezuela’s growing ties to Iran include direct flights from Tehran, and ceding Iran a shipyard facility within direct range of the Panama canal.
Venezuela has a long way to go before total collapse:
– While Venezuela’s oil production has severely declined over the years, oil is still hovering the $100/barrel magical number.
– The students are going it alone: Most importantly, no one in Venezuela’s military appears to be behind them.
The country is well down the road to repression. The current regime will continue for many years to come, be it with current dictator Nicolas Maduro, or National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello (who actually drove López to jail last night), or someone else at the presidency. Indeed, their ties to repressive Cuba and Iran signal a willingness to crack down on any form of dissent.
And I pray to God I’m wrong.
Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on Latin America and American politics at Fausta’s Blog.
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