Venezuela In Public Chaos

By Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe Upfront

The streets of Venezuela are like a battlefield. The blue smoke of teargas engulf the cities like Caracas, the country’s capital. Thousands of people have been marching on the streets to end the rule of Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government beginning March, 2017.

People have been joining protests from the slums of Petare to low-income quarters of Caracas city such as El Valle and La Vega. Graffiti’s such as “Abajo La Dictadura” meaning “Down With Dictatorship” in Spanish greet the photojournalists on streets. 

Infact, on 207th anniversary of Venezuela’s independence from Spain, over two million protested against the government. The event had been called as the ‘mother of all marches’ on the international media.

The critics of Nicolas Maduro think that him rewriting the constitution will be a final blow to their democracy. While many of his supporters belonging from United Socialist Party, known as Chavistas, have marched the streets holding his figurine and the constitution book in their hands, several opposition leaders think that Maduro is instigating the violence and shielding his dictatorship by discrediting the mass movement.

Nicolas Maduro believes that there is an economic war going on propelled by domestic and foreign enemies. He thinks that his right wing opponents are elitists, on the pay roll of a US backed plot that wants to overthrow him and his socialist government. His opponents, however, shun him as a tyrant because they believe that he doesn’t want to initiate a new election, neither wants to give more autonomy to the legislation and neither wants to release hundreds of the activists in jails.

After the death of Hugo Chavez, Nicolas Maduro defeated Henrique Capriles in an election by a narrow margin.  The present situation shows that the nation is divided on political issues. Maduro has called for a dialogue but the opposition has rejected all forms of discussions. On the contrary, a referendum to impeach the president has been blocked some time back.

Several political analysts based in Venezuela believe that 540 legislative members elected by Maduro cannot decide for millions of common masses, which in a way is a violation to the basic tenets of democracy.  They also accuse Venezuelan Supreme Court being filled with Maduro’s loyalists, some with dubious qualifications. Infact, people loyal to Maduro have been controlling state administration.

Looking at the current scenario in Venezuela, the economy had started to disintegrate at the time of second re-election of Hugo Chavez, the deceased leader once beloved by his people. Since then, the oil prices have also declined dramatically. Infact, inflation stands at whopping 741% in 2017, causing enormous human suffering.

At a time, when young men with hoods and masks burn cars, throw molotov cocktails at police, spray gasoline and set people ablaze, the government cannot afford to send more military reimbursements.

One of the Latin America’s wealthiest countries, the economic situation of Venezuela is at the brink of the recession. People have been starving, hospitals are not functioning well amidst brutal state control. Children lie on the floor of the hospitals. Medicine is also running short. People wait in long queues in supermarkets to buy commodities like milk and sugar. There is no electricity in many parts of the country and a multitude of people live on the streets. Opposition supporters have been banging empty pots and pans from their home windows to show their resentments.

Several women groups have also joined anti-Maduro protests holding white roses in their hands. It also included old men and women in wheel chairs but they have met with police brutality.

In several streets of Caracas, masked protestors called “guarimbas” have been stopping running cars for forced payments by making street barricades. About 346 businesses have been ransacked. Pro government motorcycle gangs called “colectivos” and security forces have used heightened aggression against the protestors. Armoured vehicles have ran over protestors on the streets.

With the result, about 55 people have been killed and over thousand injured. About 2700 have been arrested. The graveness of the situation indicates that Venezuela is slipping into a dangerous chaos, making the situation out of control. Analysts believe that violence occurs in a response of police crackdown on protestors, thus making a vicious cycle of barbarity.

In Chavez’s hometown, in the western city of Barinas, his childhood home has been set ablaze. Demonstrators have also razed atleast five of his statues to the ground. Businesses have been shut and roads have been barricaded in Barinas, which was once regarded as the cradle of Chavez’s Bolivarian Revolution.

Many sections of Venezuelan public believe that only twenty to thirty five percent of the population is representing the senate. It may or may not be true, but they are keeping their fingers crossed on the collapse of the ideas of Bolivarian Revolution that ruled the country for over seventeen years.


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