This is a follow-up to my previous post, Antipyretic.
The past weeks have been quite interesting in Venezuela, a new game is now being played and the ultimate prize is the country itself. There’s an invisible aura in the air, you can’t see it, you can’t smell it, but you can feel it, it’s the feeling of uncertainly.
No one is one hundred percent sure of what’s going to happen over the next days, and it certainly makes up for a stressful environment—as if our lives weren’t stressful and taxing enough as it is with all the hardships that we have to face. At the same time, there is hope in the air and a much-needed resurgence of optimism, these are two things that we haven’t had in a while.
For the first time in twenty years, there is a very tangible possibility for change, to end the Bolivarian Revolution once and for all—right as it celebrates its twentieth anniversary. The opposition, now rallied around Interim President Juan Guaidó, has regained the support of the majority of the country after they single-handedly squandered it over the past years.
Maravillosamente libre! El coro de la libertad! Gloria al Bravo Pueblo! #Caracas #Venezuela #2DeFebrero pic.twitter.com/28MdT8mms0— Cristian Crespo F. (@cristiancrespoj) February 2, 2019
January was a very intense month, not just economically, but politically as well. According to the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict’s latest report, 2,573 protests of varied shapes and sizes took place during January, 1,594 of these involved the demand for political rights. That means we had an average of 83 protests per day just in the first month of 2019.
The Venezuelan Education-Action Program on Human Rights (PROVEA in Spanish) has tallied a total of thirty-five deaths during the above-mentioned protests, and many more injured. Protests haven’t been as intense as they were in 2017 due to the fact that the opposition is playing a different tune this time—at least for now.
The opposition, namely, Guaidó, continues to accrue the support and recognition of foreign countries, with Spain, the U.K., Sweden, and Portugal being among the latest. The United States has hit the Regime where it hurts them their most—their pockets. They’ve handed over control of crucial bank accounts and assets to Guaidó’s presidency. The government has never cared for the love and support of foreign countries, it’s always been about the money, so this represents a huge blow to them.
The National Assembly, the only branch of power that the regime doesn’t control, continues to assign diplomatic envoys to other countries in order to supersede the “Bolivarian Diplomacy”. This is perhaps, were the blatant opportunism of some of the opposition’s politicians is evidenced, as some of these disreputable individuals are part of the group that essentially sold out the protesters in 2017 and have engaged in behind the table deals with the devil.
I don’t like it, and there are some that would crucify you for criticizing them right now at such a crucial point of the game, but you can’t just blindly trust them—not while knowing how sleazy they’ve been in the past. I suppose that’s how politics are, it’s not a sterile game, c’est la vie.
Another large scale rally is scheduled for the 12th of February. Attrition is the name of the game, or rather, the deck of cards that the opposition is playing right now. Peeling off the adversary until the cracks begin to show—and them you exploit them till it all comes crashing down like a Jenga tower. Dismantling a totalitarian regime that has near absolute control of the country isn’t done overnight, even if we yearn for faster results.
Last week, the National Assembly passed a Democratic Transition Statute, which details a path towards free elections and thus, a new government. Under normal circumstances we’d be holding these within thirty days, but we all know that ain’t happening. The Statute also lays down a longer path to follow as a contingency, but the end result is the same: Free elections and a new government.
Humanitarian Aid is another primary focus right now. America has send their first shipments and they’ve arrived in Colombia, this aid is mainly targeted to those that have suffered the worse out of this socialist disaster—for example, malnourished children, the sick, and the elderly. The regime’s media machine has rapidly sought ways to discredit this action.
It’s up to the military now to see if they’ll allow it to cross or not, some of the roads that connect Venezuela with our neighbors have been hastily blocked by the regime.
Maduro has openly and fiercely declined the aid, saying that we’re not a nation of beggars. He has explicitly instructed the military to not allow passage of these much-needed supplies to our country. If the military at the border do allow it to pass then they will be in open defiance of Maduro’s orders.
We’ll see how that unfolds over the next days.
Meanwhile, at the other side of the fence, Maduro’s regime hasn’t been sitting idly during these past days. They have, are, and will always be willing to do anything and everything in order to stay in power—that’s a fact we Venezuelans have come to know too well.
The cards they’ve played in this game involve threatening the National Assembly with early elections under their corrupted Electoral system in order to get rid of them, arrests, and open use of force to crush those who dare defy their rule. So far, it’s all been loud barks that have failed to yield the fear they sought to inflict.
The twentieth anniversary of the Bolivarian Revolution took place on the 2nd of February, the regime did its usual yearly rally. This time, they had to make extensive use of their media apparatus to make up for the weak (and mandatory for most) attendance.
Así estaba la Avenida Bolívar mientras Maduro daba su discurso. Las imágenes reales, sin trucos de la televisora oficial. #2Feb pic.twitter.com/49FE21a2mW— Gabriel Bastidas (@Gbastidas) February 2, 2019
Their well-oiled media apparatus has always been one of their strong assets, it’s how they’ve portrayed their distorted reality all these years.
A few celebrities, politicians, and journalists continue to do Maduro a dirty favor by expressing their support or by colluding with the local media machine in order to spread their fallacious narratives across the globe.
Some still defend Maduro out of their overbearing necessity to project their hatred and disdain of all things American, they will gladly overlook the cruel reality of this country just to take a jab at Uncle Sam.
Venezuela's health system is in state of collapse— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) February 8, 2019
The BBC's @OrlaGuerin gains rare access to a Caracas hospital
[tap to expand]https://t.co/bEtxFJjHGg pic.twitter.com/jI5OYeJ3yh
Of course, it’s easy for them to support this regime from the comfort of their first world houses as they take a sip from an overpriced cup of coffee while they post on their social media accounts using their brand new devices that no one here can possibly hope to afford with out $6 per month wages.
The strongest card that the regime counts in their deck is the military, they’re the ones keeping Maduro in power right now. There has been a handful of high rank military that have openly expressed their support to Guaidó, but it’s been dribs and drabs until one of these causes a snowball effect, something the opposition is seeking to achieve right now.
It’s worth mentioning that our military high command is grossly over bloated—and I’m not talking about their glaring obesity. Venezuela, a nation of thirty million citizens, has over two thousand generals; compare that to the approximately 900 generals the United States has while having over 325 million citizens.
As for the scaremongering involving a possible US military intervention, that’s pretty much all it is, a scare tactic. That’s not gonna happen anytime soon unless something radical happens that warrants it. However, pro-Maduro defenders will proudly use this fear in order to further spout their nonsense.
Both sides, along with the external factors involved in this conflict (US, China, Russia, Turkey, et al) continue to lay down their cards in every turn of this political duel. As for us mortals living at the center of this maelstrom well, it’s business as usual.
Our woes have not and will not lessen because of this unfolding crisis, we still need to deal with the daily consequences wrought upon us by this Bolivarian Revolution; we still need to face shortages, large lines of all kinds, hyperinflation, lack of medicine and proper access to health, water rations, power failures, and every other tribulation that we’ve become accustomed to.
Crime continues to be out of hand, the regime’s very own official statistics show that 800 homicides have taken place in 2019 so far.
It’s all or nothing for both the regime and the opposition, this is the last game, and the winner takes all. The opposition needs to commit all the way and not waste this, our last chance, if we are to be free of this nightmare once and for all.
For now, we remain uncertain, hopeful, and optimistic.