Adding to recent casualties,
At Least 3 Die in Venezuela Protests Against Nicolás Maduro
Still, despite the deaths in recent protests, now numbering seven, Wednesday’s rallies attracted thousands of people, the latest in a string of demonstrations against the increasingly autocratic rule of Mr. Maduro. Labeled by organizers “the mother of all protests,” it showed that a sustained movement in the streets against Mr. Maduro may now be forming.
However, Many Poor Venezuelans Are Too Hungry to Join Antigovernment Protests (emphasis added)
Many of the impoverished residents of the vast slums that ring Caracas and other major cities are angry about a collapsing economy and food shortages. But Venezuela’s political unrest remains mostly confined to middle-class enclaves, underscoring the struggle the opposition here faces in trying to unseat an increasingly authoritarian government.
“All I have is hunger—I don’t care if the people protest or not,” said laborer Alfonzo Molero in a slum in Venezuela’s second-largest city, Maracaibo. “With what strength will I protest if my stomach is empty since yesterday?”
Until the slums rise up, Mr. Maduro will likely hang on, analysts say.
The European Union urges the government to “de-escalate” tensions while the Secretary of State Tillerson stated that
Tillerson says the U.S. is watching the situation closely and is working with others, particularly through the Organization of American States, to communicate its concerns to Venezuela.
Here is the situation as I see it:
Maduro will continue to blunder in office for the time being.
Venezuela’s military are allegedly involved in the drug trade while possibly being outnumbered by the government-armed colectivos. As I posted yesterday,
the popular militia has added another 50,000 members (link in Spanish) – to an estimated total of 500,000. The regular armed forces total 160,000 with army reserves of 25,000, according to Clarín.
Yet, it is impossible to know the actual number of colectivos. The military may not see it in its best interest to fight them. [added:] Additionally, the military control the food supply, and will do so with any humanitarian aid.
The opposition is disarmed, and quite fragmented, aside from being mostly socialist.
Foreign actors such as Iran, Russia and the FARC are in cahoots with the government, especially Cuba, which controls the intelligence agencies. Maduro lived in Cuba in his younger days. Venezuela’s own vice-president, El Aissami, is in the U.S. Treasury Department’s kingpins list, which has frozen nearly US $3 billion of his assets, and he is reportedly linked to the sale of Venezuelan passports to Hezbollah.
The State has spent twelve-plus years consolidating power around itself. The amount it spends on its oil-sponsored international propaganda machine is immense. Everything is the fault of the U.S. “empire”.
The U.S. and the EU could implement sanctions against the regime, but should not intervene directly. Until Venezuela’s regime recognizes that it has become an international pariah, nothing is going to change.
Socialism fails. Let Venezuela live up to it.
In other Venezuelan news, General Motors Quits Venezuela After Officials Seize Plant
Announcing “immediate cessation of its operations in the country,” GM accused local officials of causing “irreparable damage” to the company and its 2,678 workers and 79 dealers in the country. GM said it would pay separation benefits “as far as the authorities permit.”
GM’s production in its Venezuelan plant had plummeted following the implementation of currency controls under Hugo Chávez.
At the blogs:
Must-read: Terror in Caracas
Venezuela on the March: Reaction
Venezuela seizes General Motors plant as property of the state
Cuba’s dictatorship warns other countries not to meddle in its affairs in Venezuela