February has come and gone, and it leaves in its wake a country in a complete state of turmoil. If this uprising has gained anything so far, is has been unveiling the brutal way in which the Venezuelan Government treats its “fascists” countrymen, and the cheap theatrical façade of democracy that chavismo uses to depict abroad.
Nevertheless, the protests are at a stalemate. I fear that this may continue for several weeks or even months, paving the way for more political repression from the Government and the so-called “colectivos.” In any normal democracy, the different branches of government would have made an immediate inquiry into the assassinations of civilians, ministers would have resigned, and international pressure to stop the violence in the country would have made a significant contribution in order to achieve this. But we’re long past that.
On this latter point, with the exceptions of strong remarks and concerns from a few former & current presidents from Latin America, the European Parliament, and the UN Secretary-General among others, Venezuela seems alone in its struggle against a totalitarian regime. Jose Miguel Insulza, the infamous OAS secretary-general, has stated that “the times of intervention are long gone”, justifying that there’s no interest from the OAS side to do something about the issue, other than recommending a round of talks between the opposition and the Government with no external oversight.
The problem that Mr. Insulza seems unwilling to realize is that one half of the country uses the State’s apparatus, resources, media, and judiciary in order to harass, persecute and coerce the other half. For all the olive branches and white doves offered in any peace-related dialogue, without any foreign oversight from an honest broker, these offerings would only try to serve chavismo as it endeavors to appease these protests, and the bloodshed would go on as usual. This point was highlighted by Hector Schamis at the Spanish newspaper “El Pais” a couple of days ago here.
So ruling out the possibility of an OAS mediation, what other external “shocks” might change the tide?
A couple of weeks ago, the conservative Heritage Foundation think-thank assembled a panel of discussion on Venezuela that included Otto Reich (former US Ambassador to Venezuela), and Leopoldo Martinez among others. You can see the broadcast from C-SPAN here.
After the discussion, US Senators such as Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez took heed and are proposing a bill in the US Senate that includes cancelling travel visas and freezing financial assets in the US to members of the Venezuelan Government and their families. I guess we have to be thankful they didn’t include an embargo. It is still unclear how this scenario would trickle down into chavismo and the region’s divergent governments, but it might alleviate the tension by signaling to those carrying out the oppression against civilians that their actions will not go overlooked.
Still, it is regrettable that a country such as ours, who used to promote and uphold democratic values throughout the region as an honest broker of our own is now fighting alone, while the rest of the region looks the other way in a silent manner.