The crisis in Venezuela is political, social and economic in scope, and is tearing apart the very fabric of that society. The almost complete lack of coverage of events there by the US news media is astonishing, and (as far as I’m concerned) is a major dereliction of duty on their part. One can only assume it’s because the late President Chavez was the darling of progressives and extreme liberals, and they can’t bear to see what’s become of his ‘legacy’.
Be that as it may, those on the ground are telling their story . . . and it’s not pretty. Survival Blog has published a report from an American with close ties to the region. Here’s an excerpt.
The news media here in the U.S. have completely missed the boat on the Venezuelan situation. Suffice it to say at this point that the conditions over the past 15 years have deteriorated so much that between one and two million out of 30 million citizens have fled the country. Violence has spiraled out of control. Some estimates indicate that during the period of 2003 and 2011(the same period as the Iraq war) the number of murder victims reported in Venezuela rivals the number of people killed in Iraq. In addition to the intolerable violence, socialist government policies collapsed many industrial and agricultural sectors. In an effort to maintain forceful hold on power, the socialist leaders used class and racial conflict to divide the nation. When Chavez decided to upgrade his military weaponry, he purchased tens of thousands of AK47s and then trained paramilitary militias, giving them the military’s “old” weapons, mostly Belgian FAL rifles. To those militias, add other paramilitary shock groups that function like Mussolini’s Black Shirts or Noriega’s Dignity Battalions– goons on motorbikes who drive around shooting at protesters and anyone on the street in order to strike terror in the populace.
So the people of all classes now find themselves in a situation in which electric power is no longer reliable, blackouts are common, and diseases that were eliminated are returning. Inflation can run up to 50% per month, rendering the Bolivar fiat currency nearly worthless. Since the government had forcefully expropriated (through the Venezuelan socialist version of eminent domain) huge tracts of productive domestic livestock and then given it “to the poor” who didn’t know how to farm it, domestic food production crashed. Food was then imported, using dollars. Once inflation soared, the government clamped down on the ability to purchase dollars. This had repercussions throughout the economy. Nearly all medicines are imported, bought with dollars. Hospitals and clinics are now almost completely devoid of medicines. Patients with chronic diseases, such as diabetes or heart disease, cannot get their medicines. Cancer patients cannot receive treatment and are dying. Food supplies are dwindling and what food there is has become expensive. Shop shelves are bare, and long lines form whenever food becomes available.
This is the background that led to the most recent wave of protests, led primarily through a grass roots, social media-driven campaign by students of high school and college age. Their message was simple: “Enough! We need a new government.” Protests by hundreds of students swelled to become thousands. This startled the government, so they unleashed their goons to try to intimidate the students. However, a “strange” thing happened: The more they were attacked, the angrier the people became. After they killed their first victim, they thought the people would cower at home, but that’s not what happened. The people who had previously perceived their own personal safety as tantamount now placed their own lives in a lower priority over the lives of the youths who were fighting for their future. The numbers of protesters swelled into the hundreds of thousands. More were killed. Still they refused to back down. So the government unleashed the military. Citizen journalists with smart phones have documented proof of brutality and even executions by some of the military, and this has been disseminated around the world. For the first time since the height of Chavez’s revolution, nations and organizations that tolerated Chavez’s “excesses” are now beginning to move.
There’s much more at the link. Essential reading if you want to be informed about what’s boiling over there – a crisis which may well take on regional overtones, not limited to Venezuela alone, and which may drag the USA into its coils as well.