Chinak-Meru, Venezuela- by LH, 2009
What is happening in Venezuela is a travesty, but what is an even more perverse is the international community’s reaction to it.
Within Venezuela, there has been widely reported violence and human rights violations ranging from rape to murder while the MERCOSUR leaders stand by denouncing opposition members, who let’s not forget are also part of the Venezuelan populace and should be allowed a voice in an alleged democracy. However, looking at things closely, it’s not difficult to figure out why MERCOSUR won’t dare speak ill of the Venezuelan government. Let’s get real: what country in the world would pooh-pooh ease of access to the largest oil reserves in the world? In fact many Latin American countries including MERCOSUR members have benefited from the current government’s policies that have gradually lead to the sharp decrease of Venezuelan industry; Spanish newspaper El Pais reports in its site that Nicaragua, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic have received oil in exchange for goods such as coffee, sugar and pants.
I’m American-Venezuelan and I currently reside in the States, and from this vantage point, I can see there are voices within the US that blame their government for some perceived support of the Venezuelan opposition. In fact we have speakers such as Keane Bhatt who go as far as saying that the US is financially supporting and training the opposition since before the 2002 temporary coup of then-president Hugo R. Chavez. I don’t know about that. I have not seen any support to the claim that current protesters and opposition members have US support, and I personally know many leaders of the current opposition who, first of all, were too young back in 2002 to be trained for anything except perhaps algebra and world history, and second of all, though they wish the US was supporting them, they claim that is not the case.
Mr. Bhatt has offhandedly commented on consumer products being scarce in Venezuela, but I’ll correct that. They’re not scarce: they’re rare. We’re talking toilette paper, milk, bread, feminine pads, soap, flour. In fact, this is a Venezuelan market:
That was posted by a Venezuelan friend on Facebook.
Mr. Bhatt also asserts that the Venezuelan government retains a mandate because the people keep voting the same party into office, but let’s make something clear: many Venezuelans don’t feel comfortable with election results due to lack of transparency. The entities in charge of voting booths and ballot count during Venezuelan elections are government supporters themselves. When asked about the reason behind the ongoing protests that began on February 12th, Mr. Bhatt doesn’t give a clear answer. I won’t deeply delve into the reasons and will stop reproving Mr. Bhatt because one I have another point to make, and two I doubt Mr. Bhatt answered any questions on that interview with any malice. I will leave you, however, with a link to a chart I love that summarizes some of the grievances the Venezuelan people currently experience.
One thing that revolts me about calling the US government pro-opposition in the Venezuelan dispute is that the USA currently accounts for the bulk of oil exports from Venezuela and, since a big portion of the Venezuelan government’s income is from oil, it’s not a stretch to say that if the USA is supporting anyone, it is the PSUV (United Socialist Part of Venezuela). But again, just like in the MERCOSUR case, who can blame the US government? Sure, Secretary of State John F. Kerry has urged for both sides to come to an agreement, but that’s hardly a strong stance when representatives of the government in the form of the Venezuelan National Guard (e.i., Venezuelan militarized police) have shot at least one unarmed civilian (this civilian died from her wounds later in hospital) and raped another. Keep in mind I say that “at least one” civilian has been shot not because there is only one or because I don’t want to look for sources for other victims, but because the Venezuelan government has taken control of all telecommunication networks and have gagged them. According to Venezuelan civilians, the government has also attempted to block access to Twitter.
With this lack of freedom of expression, it’s not a surprise that governments around the world remain ignorant of the atrocities that, as a Venezuelan, I hear from my friends and family, however the international community must wonder why would a government be so adamant in keeping any complaint in-house by gagging those who try voicing it. If I allowed my cynicism to take over, and I will, I’d say repression of this seemingly basic freedom in Venezuela offers a comfortable area of plausible deniability to anyone who otherwise might be forced to reprimand the Maduro government and, in the process, put in peril a comfortable oil trade with one of the top petroleum exporter in the world.
Surely this blog will be judged for showing a video of Marco Rubio. However, on it, the senator speaks, quite accurately I will add, about Venezuela. Whether you agree or disagree with the man, as a person of Cuban descent, he probably grew up hearing stories of what his family and family’s friends endured during the current Cuban regime. I’m of Cuban descent as well, and I know those who not only dealt with economic hardship, but who were also imprisoned for opposing their government. For those of you who don’t know, the Venezuelan and Cuban government have very close ties and the connection between the two is detailed here by Rubio.