Venezuela's spiral: Benign neglect
Venezuelans despair at the lack of international interest in the political crisis that is rocking their country. Since anti-government protests began in early February, at least 34 people have been killed, most of them opposition supporters gunned down by security forces or government-backed gangs. About 1,600 people have been arrested and many say they were beaten or tortured. One of the opposition's top leaders has been jailed for more than a month.
Yet when another senior opposition figure, National Assembly member María Corina Machado, attempted to address an Organization of American States meeting in Washington on March 21, the OAS permanent council first voted to close the meeting to the media, then to prohibit her report. The shameful stifling — which was entirely at odds with the organization's Democratic Charter — was enabled by some 15 Caribbean countries that depend on heavily subsidized Venezuelan oil but it was also supported by regional powerhouse Brazil.
A delegation from the UNASUR group — promoted by Venezuela as an alternative to the OAS — subsequently visited Caracas and won a commitment from President Nicolás Maduro to accept a “good-faith witness,” possibly from the Vatican, to mediate talks with the opposition. But there's not much reason to believe that Mr. Maduro — who refers to opposition leaders as “Chucky,” in a bizarre reference to the horror movie — is ready to compromise or that the UNASUR group will pressure him to do so.
The problem with this fecklessness is that Venezuela desperately needs outside help. With one of the world's highest inflation rates and one of its highest murder rates, severe shortages of basic goods, chronic power outages and now daily street confrontations, the country is in danger of collapse. Its polarized political leaders, with no elections in sight, are attempting to destroy each other rather than to compete within the rule of law, much less to negotiate.
The chief protagonist of this meltdown is Mr. Maduro, the former bus driver who succeeded Hugo Chávez a year ago and has since proved himself as crude in his political tactics as he is ignorant of economic fundamentals. The president portrays moderate opponents as “fascists,” claims that he is the target of incessant plotting by the CIA and increasingly depends on force — delivered by riot police or organized groups of thugs — to answer popular protests.
The opposition, for its part, is splintering between those who favor a patient strategy of winning over Venezuelans who still support the Chavista movement and militants who hope that building street barricades will somehow trigger the regime's collapse — or perhaps a military coup. The violent clashes may be driving away citizens who would support a movement that aimed for change by peaceful and democratic means.
It could be that nothing can stop Venezuela's downward spiral. But it is shameful that its neighbors have not made more of an effort.
— from The Washington Post
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Fleury’s career-best 6th shutout lifts Penguins over Avalanche in overtime
- Jamie’s Dream Team founder says she will press on despite new illness
- North Versailles Township approves $6.79 million budget that keeps tax rates flat
- Rossi: Brawl for ADs between Pitt and WVU
- Steelers must be creative in providing snaps for linebackers
- Nonprofit hospitals in Western Pa. feel pain in finances despite Affordable Care Act
- Analysis: Misunderstood Chryst served Pitt well
- Trained teachers, staff to treat allergic students under Pennsylvania law
- Time is of essence for Pitt in finding football coach, athletic director
- Veteran tight end Miller’s blocking skill crucial to success to Steelers running game
- Pitt offensive coordinator Rudolph still focused on Panthers