Why the Labor for Freedom in Venezuela is So Painful

Former Venezuela Presidential Chief of Staff Beatrice Rangel explains why the fight for Venezuela is so difficult.

For the better part of the 20th century Venezuela was regarded as the democratic showcase of the Americas in a continent where only the U.S., Canada and Costa Rica could pride themselves of being free societies.

During the 19th century the country was revered as the launching board for independence from Spain.

Now it is known worldwide for gross violations of human rights, dire poverty, economic bedlam and a social exodus which only rivals that of Central American citizens at the height of the region’s civil wars.

Faced with a government induced apocalyptic environment, the people of Venezuela have taken to the streets to demand the observance of the constitution that contemplates several means to end governmental malpractice.

As the government systematically foreclosed every constitutional avenue including a recall referendum, provincial and municipal elections and early general elections, people have become increasingly despairing thereby mounting the frequency and intensity of civic protests.

Government response has gone from institutional blockading to fierce repression.

As a result, about 30 protesters have been killed by law enforcement forces, close to 2,000 detained and about 50 student leaders have been sequestered by plainclothes police, entombed in torture chambers and devoid from any contact with lawyers or relatives.

Far from instilling fear and dissuading civic society from continuing to protest, the Venezuelan government is now facing a state of wholesale national rebellion marked by rising disenchanting among its following.

A month-long paralysis would have brought down any government in the world. But the Venezuelan government seems not only to resist but to incur in massive repression and growing isolation to escape the popular will. This seems to leave no other avenue to resolve the conflict than a prolonged period of massive insurrection with mounting casualties and deepening economic chaos.

The question then arises. What is the government of Venezuela’s support platform?

Answering this question is vital to help civic society in Venezuela to regain freedom.

The first stone supporting the totalitarian edifice is the knowledge by the five leaders of the so called Bolivarian revolution that they have nowhere to go in the world and that the evolution of both human rights and anti-crime international institutional framework guarantees that wherever they go they will eventually face accountability.

Second, they are defending a business which is not a legitimate business. To be sure, the cooperation agreement sealed between late president Hugo Chavez and FARC leadership with a view to recreate Gran Colombia brought to Venezuelan territory the drug business and soon the governing clique began participating.

Today most government hierarchs are direct or indirect beneficiaries of the drug trade. Drug trafficking produces enough resources for the government to operate or at the very least to finance repression over a extended period of time through weapons and ammunitions acquisitions.

Third, there are international alliances. And contrary to those forged by the opposition which basically are NGOs and international organizations, the Venezuelan government has true power players on its side. These are Russia and terrorist organizations worldwide. The first seeks to codify its status as world power impairing U.S. and Chinese national interests. The second to bring down the edifice of civilization.

Finally, there is software. Cuban intelligence is the creator and in some instances operator of the repressive agenda. Needless to elaborate on the ruthlessness of the Cuban approach to dissent.

To these four pillars one must add elite behavior. As we all too well know, the business community in Venezuela is an excellent rent extractor as opposed to wealth creator. Given that the sole owner of rent is the state managed by the current delinquent clique, the business community has served as facilitating network to the regime.

Indeed few have been the business leaders that have refrained from overtly or covertly conducting business with that ruling clique.

Seated on these four pillars — fight for survival, liquid assets from the drug trade, sturdy alliances, and a Cuban branded repressive strategy — the Venezuelan Government is all set to resist even if it implies incurring thousands of casualties.

What could interfere with these plans?

Only international action establishing clear sanctions to Russia, international penal prosecution to all institutions and individuals that are material to Venezuelan economic lifeblood, and, of course finally, revising the oil relationship.

But even these measures will take time and demand the international acceptance that Venezuela is currently governed by organized crime and undergoing a humanitarian crisis that could and will impact Colombia, the Southern Caribbean nations and the North of Brazil.

This would warrant action under the U.N. adopted principle of the responsibility to protect.

And this international push together with internal dissent could only be the way to liberate Venezuela from the dreadful fate of becoming a delinquent failed state armed with oil reserves.

Published by Latin American Herald Tribune on Sunday April 30th, 2017. 

*The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author.*