Venezuela breaking news cannot be easily deciphered. On one hand you have the Bolivarian Government who claims to be fighting fascism while at the same time displaying the same kind of Mussolini style right-wing militarism, complete with tanks, generals chanting eternal loyalty to Hugo Chavez and a rhetoric based on nationalism. On the other hand, you have the extreme right oligarchy who promotes dissent among a middle class that does not want to participate in a 20th century left-tinged militarism and prefers the material benefits that selling the country out to multinational corporations would bring. The leader of the protesters, Leopoldo Lopez, is an ex oil company executive from an elite family that graduated from Harvard university’s Kennedy School of Government where he obtained a Master of Public Policy in 1996 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopoldo_Lopez.)
I started my online research with Univision, the American Spanish news networked with a conservative bent.
Univision starts with a scroll of photographs of close ups of cuts and bruises and then switches to shots of police detaining students while calling the situation the Venezuela’ Guantanamo (Ironic, that they are comparing to a US abusive prison, no?). The protest deaths are presented as more evidence of the failure of the socialist regime to provide the middle class students with future jobs. Just like half of Americans believes that Fox news is true, Latin Americans believe that Univision also has unbiased news. This news report was not news based on facts but on speculation and elaborate editing with photos taken from who knows where. I wanted raw footage, something I can analyze without the filters of the news team and I finally found one.
Here was a video shot by a student protester who was there when one of the students gets shot:
The intention of the upload was to show the brutality of the police and government. Yet, as I watched on and saw the streets taken over my hundreds of young protester throwing rocks
it is no surprise that the cops respond with force. The situation would escalate quickly in a US Protest if the protesters started throwing rocks at the cops. I am no way siding with the cops, but it is typical in any part of the world, for cops to beat protesters who are throwing rocks at them.
So, to get the other side, I switch to youtube, where I found, actual footage of Maduro speaking with all the military fanfare of North Korea.
Maduro’s gaze seems scared, nervous, when he takes his long Castro style breaks between sentences, but when he speaks his voice sounds confident and his repetitious message is catchy and convincing. History shows that the US will not tolerate a left wing government and that they are being set up for yet another US sponsor coup (5 minutes in) complete with planned protest murder to steer international opinion. That seems reasonable considering the long history of US backed intervention in Latin America (see Chomsky:
There was an attempted right wing coup in 2002 during Chavez rule, which eventually failed. As Maduro’s speech went on, “justice” seem to be me to equate with vengeance, which left a bad taste in my mouth although if he is being ousted by the empire, it would seem fair, for him to be upset and nervous. Yet at the end, as I watch the military procession and then re-watch the military parades I couldn’t help thinking, “Who wants to be ruled by military or ex military men?”
Latin American has been dealing with this same left wing vs. right-wing polarization since the US started invading Latin American (openly and secretly) in the 19th century. The result has been eternal civil war, usually conducted by armies of indigenous people who are conscripted to fight with pay or no pay. The Latin American people are mad, and rightly so because the first world steals or purchases at ridiculously low prices Latin American minerals and harvests causing poverty and unhappiness among the people. In return they get trashy reality TV (culture), plastics designed in the US (but made in China) that undermine local ventures and contaminate the rivers and now the ocean with trash (comfortable life), and the whole system of alienation and misinformation that is the public school system (education). Like in the past, it is the elite (usually white, or of close European descent) who benefit by being the marionettes of the great empires. The failure of this colonial system (that pretends to be democratic, just and free) leads the working and farming people to turn to the other system also brought in from the west, socialism. On first impression, the promise of socialism: equality by a state sponsored redistributions of wealth, seems like a better alternative, but they are two sides of the same coin. In both cases, the rural indigenous family loses their tranquil way of life, connected everyday to the earth and their family and are pushed into the cities. In the city, both the father and the mother work 40+ hour jobs and send their children to poorly funded schools that teach them that material progress is the real purpose in life.
There is a third option that is outside the dualism of capitalism/socialism. It is the indigenous rural way of life. Cities can learn a lot from seeing how rural communities live without the need of so many materials things. The purpose of life is then to try to live a happy, healthy life without hurting your fellow humans or the environment. Of course, the first thing any society needs is enough food, clean water and shelter for its people. From the reports, it seems there is scarcity in Venezuela basic staples. Hungry people will easily riot in any city in the world. I would not be surprised that the absence of basic food staples are due to corruption or lack of planning and organization although one cannot rule out hoarding of food by the right with the purpose of causing scarcity and speculation (as was done by the right in Chile).
After hearing both sides of the story, I concluded that neither one is a good option for the country’s future. What Venezuela needs is peace, not a civil war. Yet, having something everyone wants that is in limited quantities, (oil in this case) always leads to social unrest. The corporate thieves of the world want oil for free or for next to nothing. Having oil and minerals has always been a curse to nations (as well as indigenous communities). Those countries and communities do not thrive but ironically they economically collapse.
The solution to Venezuela’s political problems lies outside these two extremes. In a country split almost 50/50, on one hand the poor, and on the other the elites, the middle class, and the poor with hopes of being middle class, the only solution is a middle ground government that can peacefully lead the people to a dialogue of understanding. This new government can, like Bolivia, also focus on including the valuable indigenous voices that live in the rural areas, outside the troubled cities. From them, they can learn a set of new values that can help Venezuela become not necessarily a rich nation, but a happy, environmentally responsible one where every one has decent food, shelter, and shorter weekly work-hours so that Fathers as well as Mothers can also spend time to raise their children.