Friday, April 11, 2014

Televised Mediations Are Unlikely to Solve Venezuela’s Problems

In response to the intercession of Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil and the Vatican, the leaders of the opposition embodied in a group called the Table of Democratic Unity (MUD) have agreed to mediate their disputes with the government of Nicolás Maduro. The mediation is to be televised continuously. Chief among the opposition is Henrique Capriles, who was the MUD's opponent to Maduro in the last election, "losing" by a paper-thin margin. The problem is that Capriles and his friends historically have not truly been opposition and have silently accepted Maduro’s usurpation of the presidency and his control over the judicial and legislative powers.  

I am reminded of the Russian revolution’s concept of “useful idiots” or “useful innocents.” The phrase describes employing a phony opposition to give the illusion that decisions are being made in democratic fashion, since there is alleged discussion and compromise achieved after democratic debate and voting, when in fact the party in power dictates everything, and the elections are rigged.

What leads me to conclude there is no hope for real success is that the students, who are the ones who have manned the barricades, and who have borne the brunt of the attacks from the colectivos and the National Guard, are not part of the process. Leopoldo Lopez is still in jail with trumped up charges. The students, particularly in the western part of the country, appear unfazed by the televised circus of the mediation.

I can only suspect that if the Castros are watching, they are grinning like cats that swallowed the canary.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


A month ago when the protests in Venezuela began I was skeptical if they would be sustained. In the past four years there have been many eruptions of protest, characterized by "cacerolazos," the public banging of pots and pans, for the most part during the night. However, it appears that the protests have reached a critical mass and the government’s violent attempts to suppress peaceful protests has only served to stimulate further demonstrations.

The protests go beyond the general unhappiness with food shortages, high crime (murder rate is the highest in the world), inflation, and abridgements of basic human rights. The protestors have called attention to the black and silent hand of the Castro brothers at their control of the Venezuelan government. When Maduro took office, I wrote of the suspicious circumstances under which Chavez’s body was moved from Havana. It seemed pretty clear that the Castro brothers were not happy with the idea of Diosdado Cabello, the speaker of the Assembly taking over as president of Venezuela as required by its constitution and instead helped Maduro usurp power. Mr. Cabello is a smart man and posed a threat to Raúl’s ability to control Venezuela from Havana. Maduro is not-so-smart bus driver who had training in Cuba when  he was a young man, and his sole qualification for public office was his blind loyalty to Chavez and to Fidel Castro and a willingness to be a puppet to managed from Havana.

Now the bus driver is in charge and his attempts at governance is pathetic and repressive and he has only succeeded in emboldening the students who have taken to the streets in the tens of thousands., which purports to be a neutral reporter of events in Venezuela features an article about Maduro’s announcement of the government dedicating Bs40 million for a national eco school to help combat eco vandalism by the opposition and its alleged destruction of more than 5000 trees. There are more murders each year in Venezuela than in the United States and all of the countries of European Union combined. The population of Venezuela is 29 million, with 3 million living in Caracas. In Caracas, the murder rate is 200 per 100,000, roughly 6,000. 

With all these killings and thousands rioting in the streets, the bus driver thinks that priority should be given to spending Bs40 million ($6,349,206 USD) to counteract the destruction of 5000 trees. There is no toilet paper in the stores and the government this week started issuing cards that will track what shoppers can buy in the supermarkets, a short step away from rationing (shades of Cuba). The bus driver needs to reexamine his priorities and realize it is time to get off the bus.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

70 Ladies in White Arrested

Here's a posting from concerning a mass arrest this past Sunday:
I suppose the Cubans who "like" Castro approve of this, but it's hard to imagine any rational person thinking that this is a sign of healthy society.

I wish the demonstrators luck today in showing that the regime must change.