Venezuela's 'communist' revolution, begun by Chavez, has been hailed by many as a great leap forward for the Venezuelan poor, who had access for the first time to medical care and other social services, including free schooling. That indeed has been part of Chavez's legacy. But the problem arises when these gains are viewed solely from the perspective of an ideology, and not from the practical standpoint of what such largesse entailed for the deceased totalitarian ruler.
For many opponents of the Chavez regime, the social programs initiated under his rule were nothing more than gifts aimed at consolidating his base. And that may be true, since the economic and socialist reforms enacted by Chavez have not created the stream of income needed to sustain such programs. By nationalizing crucial interests in the country, he also diminished the stream of income from the business sector, and created a stronger power base for himself.
Venezuela was, and remains, a country with great resources. It is exactly the squandering of such resources, such as oil, that has garnered the most criticism against Chavez.
His successor, Maduro, has made the situation even worse, by failing to shore the economic downturn with reforms aimed at increasing revenue stream, and therefore undermining the very underpinnings of the socialist reforms that the poor people in Venezuela were hailing Chavez for.
But Maduro has now turned into a petty tyrant. He is using to great effect the ground developed by Chaves during his political campaigns, who are now terrorising and brutalizing certain areas of the country and the capital, where they run interference to the opposition's demonstrations. Student revolts have turned bloody, and the situation is expected to get worse.
The defection, late last week, of an important army official may signify the first glimpse of what may be a growing mutiny in Maduro's army. The defector, one Juan Carlos Caguaripano Scott, gave a statement in front of the statue of Venezuela's annointed hero and saint, Simon Bolivar. In it, he detailed how his conscience had compelled him to come forward, in the name of Bolivar and his people, as to the atrocities being committed on the ground escalated into a brutal, fratricidal civil war.
The defector went on to call for Maduro's deposition for promoting a civil war in which most of the violence is incited by the paramilitary chavistas that are terrorizing the capital and beyond. In the speech he also went on to call for the rest of the army to defect and misalign itself from Maduro's policies and measures.
Immediately a warrant for his arrest was issued. The charge of course is the usual 'coup attempt' that Maduro so cherishes as corollaries to his insistence that the unrest in his country is due to outside interference, mainly to the 'evil' power to the North. The swirl of conspiracy theories promoted by Maduro sit well with a majority of the people who believe that Venezuela, and their destiny, has forever been tampered with by the greedy West.
Four more military personnel who dissented Maduro's orders will be keeping him company, for they have already been incarcerated earlier this month.
To make things worse, Maduro forced the Supreme Court in Venezuela to declare last week that freedom of speech is not universal and therefore any dissenter can now be also imprisoned.
Reports from Venezuela speak of terrible violence against the protesters, in addition to that suffered by paramilitary forces. Reports of rape and robbery, in addition to violent crackdowns are painting a picture increasingly bleak and worrisome. Reports of torture are also mounting.
Venezuela's deaths from demonstrations has risen to 41. But as the violence and unrest grows, the military seems to be splintering around Maduro. There are apparently more than 30 military officers now in jail for defecting or refusing to carry out orders. The revolution, if there ever was one, has been betrayed by a petty, small minded leader who should never have been placed in such position. One general has even been able to escape his arrest so far, and is broadcasting his call of deposing Maduro via a social app called Zello. Some defectors are not so lucky. Otaiza, ex-chief of intelligence for Maduro was found executed in his car in the outskirts of Caracas, signaling yet another escalation of Maduro's crackdown. His death was called a botched robbery, but no one has any doubt as to why the officer was found dead.
Source : Bloomberg/ 5.4.14