(Photo by Luis Carlos Diaz)
There are three major uprisings against current government regimes, literally, on three different corners of the world: Thailand, Ukraine, and Venezuela. And still, the blood count is rising.
All issues surrounding these revolutions are complicated, however when you look at one, you are looking at the scaffolding of all of them.
Oppressive leader that was barely democratically elected + Basic human rights not met = The Clash
So yes, Bangkok, Kiev and Caracas are burning.
I’m a bit more drawn to Latin America than other parts of the world, so I researched what is happening in Venezuela, lest we forget.
WHO: Nicolas Maduro is the current president of Venezuela from the United Socialist Party. He’s hard to miss, you couldn’t forget a moustache like that. He was a former bus driver who became a union leader and was eventually elected to the National Assembly in 2000. He started from the bottom, now he’s here. Except here is not the life he thought it would be.
The problem is he comes after the coveted Hugo Chavez (who was losing “coveted” status as his health failed.) Chavez was “one of those guys” who had the charisma to create followers, or Chavistas. The people loved this guy so much that he was president for 14 years. Not too shabby, senor.
Unfortunately, Chavez had always taken a lot of flack from the United States for being so dang socialist (some would even call him a communist empathizer). Eventually, maybe from a conspiratorial biological coup or maybe from sheer stress of dealing with George W. Bush and Obama, he died from the cancer on March 5 2013. By this time Chavez had already appointed Maduro as his vice president (2012), so Maduro thought it would be legit to run for presidency soon after his friend’s death. On April 14 2013, Maduro was elected as president (over opposition leader from the right, Capriles) by a margin of 1.5%. Close, too close.
NOW, WHAT?: Well, a power vacuum: a black hole sucking in all the political and business elites of Venezuela. From the left, you have Diosdado Cabello (a military man) and Rafael Rodriguez (head of a major oil corporation and vice president of the economy). From the right (reps of the bourgeoisie), the infamous Leopoldo Lopez (who is very handsome and who was also arrested by Maduro’s government), Cristina Machado and the opposition leader Capriles. Every one of these guys wants Maduro’s presidency. They are even saying that the man has violated articles 229, 231 and 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution just by being up there in his quasi-inherited ivory tower.
Makes me wonder what they all have been smoking because being president of Venezuela is not easy right now. Maduro has got some serious problems on his hands. In 2012, Venezuela saw a 50% inflation rate because of the falling value of the currency. It got so bad that a basic basket of goods was 30% more than the minimum wage. The people were hungry and hungry people act like animals. Insecurity had reached an all time high, making Venezuela one of the most dangerous states for violent crime in Latin America. Because of all of these no-money-more-problems, on February 12 2014 (conveniently Youth Day), university students took to the streets fuelled by idealism and hope.
Since then, 14 people have been killed, hundreds of been arrested with reports of torture and rape. Even the nation’s beauty queen, Genesis Carmona, 22, was shot dead whilst protesting.
So far, that’s what is happening.
If you would like to read some in-depth analyses of the situation in Venezuela, I highly recommend the following:
Gonzalez, Mike. Is Venezuela Burning? Jacobin Magazine. 02/25/14
Naim, Moises. The Tragedy of Venezuela. The Atlantic. 02/25/14
Speri, Alice. Are Cuban Special Forces Shooting at Venezuelan Protesters? . Vice Online. 02/26/14