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. www.venezuelaanalysis.com, 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.