The time bomb and the minefields in Venezuela

Venezuela can get to the level of low-flame civil war or enter into a period of very open repression in six months to one year at most.

I don't think I say this lightly. Here you can listen Chávez stating that they will rule for 900 years. The government does not understand such a thing as "pluralism" or "open debate". As you can read from governmental sources, they do not even consider there could be something like a power change. They may say "it is because the opposition is no opposition, it does not live up to the challenge". Everybody knows it is not just that. Chávez and his high-ranking supporters would simply never accept losing power. They are either

  • too involved in crimes of all types AND/OR
  • too imbued in an absolutist ideology that does not accept anything but total contro, power alternation is not an option for them, who claim to be "the People"
As the economy deteriorates and the disatisfaction grows, the government can only threaten, increase control of the electoral system, of resources, move more potential enemies to leave the country as in Belarus or Cuba.

The government has distributed many thousands of Kalashnikovs and other weapons among its militias for some years now. In January of this year the National Assembly approved the new law about "Bolivarian" militias. The military has been training those militias with more or less rigour for some years already. Now they don't just have a new name, they are going to be scale d up.

If you click on the picture you will go to VTV, the governmental national TV site. There you can read about the "Bolivarian" militia, you can watch the president and a young woman in El Pao, in Northern Cojedes.

This woman is one out of 2000 persons (180 of them women), mostly from rural, poor areas who were spending three days in paramilitary training. This lady is an average Venezuelan. Most Venezuelans don't live in "the countryside", but they do live in cities that are anything but urban when it comes to available services and opportunities.

She is poor and her education is minimal. She has probably never left the country and has no ways of comparing things but what she gets through some filter. She has hardly any memories of life before 1998 and if she has, I am sure the pieces relating to previous governments are not good. Venezuelan governments had grown more and more ineffective with the years and rural areas had become more and more forgotten.

The national government is telling these people they are preparing themselves for any US invasion or attack by any US-supported movement. It is brainwashing them in a way that can only be compared to that of evangelical fundamentalists.

It does not help us at all that the most vocal opposition in Venezuela are people like this:

That is Ms Machado. She did a good job for Súmate. Still: it is not just a fatal picture with the wrong person. You just have to listen to her while trying to imagine how much time she has spent listening to people in El Pao, in El Tigre, in Maturín, in Pedernales, in big Miguel Pena or Libertador. She is running just to become a deputy for the most prosperous electoral district in Venezuela. Well, somebody has to do it and yet: a lot of people are putting most of their hopes, efforts and attention on stuff like that.

It does not help another of the most vocal leaders the opposition has right now is a guy like Ravell, with his FOX-News kind of journalism, who often goes to the US on vacation and to see his family there. Let me be clear: 1) FOX News journalism sucks and it isn't much better than VTV journalism and 2) although there is nothing wrong with going to the US or Europe on vacation, the vast majority of the people in Venezuela want to see leaders who are more grounded in Venezuela. They want to see people who have spent more of their free time talking to the average Venezuelans, not to the average inhabitant of a posh area of the capital.

It does not help that the few opposition leaders who are not from the capital's Eastern side are hardly heard anywhere.

The government has a couple of advantages:

1) the general level of education is very low and brainwashing is particularly easy, easier than in many other countries in South America (check out my posts on education)
2) most opposition leaders are indeed out of focus, they don't work outside their main 2-3 urban centres and beyond the TV cameras, they have no project or they don't know how to dissemiante their projects
3) the petrodollars will keep flowing
4) governments such as the Spanish government will keep supporting the Venezuelan regime as long as it gets juicy business deals (sure, and "promoting a climate of dialogue and understanding")
5) the far-right will find its way to promote extreme, undemocratic solutions, just like the far-left, to the detriment of most people, they will also be the ones helping the current leaders of the opposition

Social inequality was very high in Venezuela and things aren't getting any better. Now, though, the government in power knows how to do very effective brainwashing. Tensions will increase. The opposition is lead by people out of touch with the Venezuelans outside the Eastern Caracas cocoon. Groups challenging for an open, fair debate will be either rejected or ignored. Stupid people will try to promote violence and fear.

There are lots of weapons out there. There is some form of ideology - contradictory, rather superficial and all, but much more consistent than what the opposition groups offer -. There is resentment. There is ignorance.

We have a ticking bomb. We have minefields. We need courageous deminers.