Venezuela is in flames, with almost daily protests both for and against the government, severe food shortages and an economy in free fall. We see a once proud and strong nation now on its knees. We see where a democratically elected president is being called a dictator (with one year left in office) and we see where both sides are getting rather testy and irritated with the apparent status quo that has emerged (with the failing and the government at a deadlock). We also see where the OAS has roundly condemned the Venezuelan government for their ‘excesses’ against the protesters and demand that president Maduro be removed. To some it may seem like an internal matter that should be left alone to the Venezuelans, while others believe that Maduro should go and that he is nothing short of a dictator as the OAS head likes to say. That however would spell doom for the rest of the region and the Caribbean in particular.
What we are seeing play out in Venezuela is not a new phenomenon, we have seen this drama played out in Latin America and the Caribbean before. One only needs to look at Chile in the 70’s to see the parallels between then and now. Then as now we had a socialist leader (democratically elected) who was intent on nationalizing key industries and spreading the nations wealth in a more equitable way. Then as now we see where the vested interests in those nations protest. Then as now we see the influence of that insidious group USAID as it feeds the opposition parties. Then as now we see where the same USAID holds workshops with the opposition on how best to attack the government and then as now we see where that same USAID has close links to the opposition protesters on the streets.
It cannot be stressed enough that what we are seeing in Venezuela now is an attempted coup. We are witnessing the opposition in that country at its highest ebb in years trying to roll back the hard won changes and social reforms that were won during the Bolivarin revolution. It is obvious that President Maduro is not Chavez. He lacks the charm of Chavez and tends to be more blunt in his pronouncements. But a dictator he is not. How many dictators are democratically elected, with the eyes of the world on your nations elections which were called free and fair? How many dictators when faced with an obvious external push to oust them along with concerted violent opposition protest in the streets would tell the forces to use as little force as possible? How many dictators would use the constitution to call a people’s assembly to write a new constitution to put an end to the political impasse that the nation faces? These are not the actions of a dictator. But since we take our orders from Washington we are coming down hard on the rough around the edges Maduro, the man who just looks like a tele-novella villain. We must get over looks and get to the substance.
The US has been looking to kill before birth the idea of a united Latin America and key to this has always been the downfall of socialists Venezuela, the nation that has been the beacon of social justice and a vocal proponent of integration in the region. Looking about Latin America one cannot help but being depressed as one sees progressive governments fall to the wayside of US interest. But take heart for while the left-wing may be under threat (as seen in Venezuela) many persons are beginning to wake up and realize that this system is not for us and that we can’t go it alone. Love him or loathe him, Maduro is the democratically elected President and we especially in the Caribbean must stand firm and together with Venezuela as it goes through a tumultuous time.