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Between Revolution and Tyranny: A Fluid and Highly Permeable Line

Between Revolution and Tyranny: A Fluid and Highly Permeable Line.

This is an excellent explanation of how we are being manipulated and how these protest movements are often not what they seem-and even when they are, they are often screwed over by those who “help” them.

Between Revolution and Tyranny: A Fluid and Highly Permeable Line

Musa al-Gharbi, Truthout: Being anti-revolution isn’t sexy – but then again, neither is watching the intentions, efforts and sacrifices of activists be manipulated in such a way as to give rise to even greater injustice, oppression and misery, as is often the ultimate fate of revolutions.

Read the Article (link above)

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9 things you need to know about Venezuela and the recent violence

9 things you need to know about Venezuela and the recent violence
February 27, 2014 Imperialism, Popular Struggle, World

by Pablo Vivanco

1. The students marches are from the right-wing of the student movement

Unlike in places like Chile, there is no single or united student movement in Venezuela. Not only are students groups highly decentralized, but they are also divided along political lines.

Another unique feature of the student groups identifying with the opposition is that they do not organize around accessible or free education (since education has been made accessible to the sector of society that was previously excluded, resulting in an increase of 1,809,432 post-secondary students from 1999 to 2014).

The most recent opposition student demonstrations began in the western city of Tachira near the Colombian border. On the third day of student demonstrations about insecurity on the campus, the State Governor’s house was attacked and four people were subsequently arrested (two of whom weren’t students). These arrests led to student demonstrations in other cities – all of these demonstrations were not shut down by police – which led to the February 12th demonstration, where three people died.

On February 12, however, its important to know that there were thousands of Bolivarian students and youth marching for ‘El Dia de la Juventud’ (Youth Day), on the other side of Caracas. When speaking about the ‘student movement’ the logical question that has to follow is ‘which one’?

Part of the Pro-Government student march on February 12th, 2014 (via Agencia Venezolana de Noticias)
2. Most have died due to violence and sabotage of far right ‘protesters’

Number games with deaths of people is unpleasant. However, given how much of the coverage around the violence has been presented – as direct state violence against peaceful protests – an account of how the violence has played out is necessary.

Of the now 13 deaths directly resulting from the protests, at least five of the deaths have occurred at the barricades erected by the protesters at different sites, including motorcyclists who have been decapitated by barbed-wire booby-traps set up.

Protestors following the instructions of General Vivas to set the wired booby traps at intersections that have claimed two lives by decapitation. (via albaciudad.org)
Other deaths include the murder of Juan Montoya, a leader of the leftist Tupamaros and the assassination of Arturo Alexis Martinez, the brother of a socialist National Assembly member who was shot from a balcony sniper as he cleared debris from the blockades.

Three opposition protesters have been killed, including former beauty contestant Genesis Carmona who other protesters and ballistics reports indicate was shot from behind – that is, from other protesters. Jimmy Vargas, age 34, died when he accidentally fell from his building as confirmed in a video from CNN. His mother blames the government and Maduro. Bassil Dacosta, another student opposition protester was shot on February 12.

A total of nine members of the Venezuelan security forces are under arrest, including three officials from the Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional (SEBIN) under investigation in relation to the deaths of Dacosta and Montoya. Three other arrested police officers, two from Chacao and one from Merida (with each city claiming 1 of the dead), are members of police forces under the command of opposition Mayors.

The head of the SEBIN was sacked after February 12 for failing to comply with the specific order from President Maduro to not send SEBIN into the streets on that day.

Some 30 others have died from not receiving adequate medical attention due to the blockades.

All of these deaths are tragic. But even these deaths need to be put into perspective. The vast majority of the deaths are not attributable to agents of Bolivarian government and there is no impunity for those who may be responsible for the deaths or abuse of people.

3. There has been massive media manipulation

When the Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce, Catholic Church, Military High Command and trade union centre organized their coup back in 2002, there was no Facebook or Twitter. The media in Venezuela at this point, was completely in private hands except for the state-owned VTV (which the opposition stormed during the coup and whose signal they closed down). To justify the coup, the private media manipulated images and footage of street demonstrations to suggest that the government and its supporters had killed unarmed protesters (sound familiar?). It was through informal networks and word of mouth – what people in Venezuela call radio bemba – that people found out about the coup and organized against it.

Today, with the advances in democratizing media (through the hundreds of community-run TV and radio stations) and holding private media accountable, the traditional media does not have a monopoly over information. New and social media however, has demonstrated its power to influence the perspectives of what is happening in Venezuela, especially outside of Venezuela. More than this, it has shown the extent to which events and realities can be distorted.

A recent article by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) highlights this issue. The article calls into question the accuracy and credibility of an article written by Francisco Toro, editor of opposition web site Caracas Chronicles, where the article titled “The Game Changed Last Night” was published. The article claims that there were paramilitary style incursions into wealthy neighbourhoods of Caracas with motorcyclists “shooting at anyone who seemed like he might be protesting.” This article was shared half a million times, including among many leftists and progressives despite the dubious authorship and questionable information. Toro’s defense for publishing unverified rumours: “I am NOT a reporter”.

This is but one of the countless exaggerated, manipulated and uncorroborated tweets, YouTube videos and other postings – even showing images of police brutality in other countries – that are circulating in order to demonize the government and its supporters. This is not a coincidence, but rather version 2.0 of the 2002 media coup.

The propaganda campaign has been relentless, and unfortunately effective.

4. There has been an active campaign to sabotage the Venezuelan economy

Much has been made and said about the causes of these demonstrations and the real challenges Venezuelans face.

There is no doubt that there are real and legitimate grievances and issues concerning crime and access to goods. However, what has been missing from this narrative are the initiatives from the government and social movements to address these and, perhaps more importantly, the contributions of Venezuela’s opposition to creating and exacerbating these problems.

Inflation is often cited as a problem in Venezuela, reaching 56% this January. However, inflation is not a new feature in this oil-exporting country. The inflation rate in Venezuela has averaged 26.78% between 1973 and 2014, reaching an all time high of 115.18% in September of 1996. Inflation was lower than 18% as recently as December of 2012, so inflation is not the cause of scarcity or economic grievances that have been cited.

Indeed, there is scarcity in certain parts of Venezuela. And by scarcity, this means that things are hard to come by in stores. Why is this? The answer is that this scarcity is a deliberate campaign by producers, transporters and vendors to hoard and withhold goods, in collusion with speculators, price gougers and others shipping things to sell for dollars across the Colombian border. Proof? In the first half of 2013, at least 40,000 tons of food has been found hidden in various locations. Later in that year, several large chains such as Daka were fined and ordered to lower their prices for marking up prices by as much as 1,200% on goods and electronics.

The Venezuelan government has looked to tackle this problem, but there has been resistance to their measures. The Institute for the Defence of People in Access to Goods and Services (INDEPABIS) has responded to the thousands of tips and complaints about hoarding and price-gouging, heading up massive investigations of merchants resulting in arrests, fines, price-redressing as well as the recovery of hoarded goods. However, the political opposition has opposed the government measures including price controls and actions to go after this type of abuse and economic sabotage, calling it a plan for ‘anarchy.’ In addition, two people armed with grenades tried to assassinate INDEPABIS President Eduardo Saman.

On the streets, these protests also coincided with the implementation of a new national law for controlling prices. Not to mention that in various places, such as Carabobo and Zulia, protesters have burned trucks stacked with food (produced from the state operated PDVAL) headed for subsidized markets in working class neighbourhoods.

This form of economic sabotage mirrors the campaign against Salvador Allende’s government in Chile, where hoarding was rampant and transportation of goods hampered by a strike and violent attacks from the organized fascist outfit, Patria y Libertad. Goods remained scarce until the day after the coup on September 11, 1973.

5. Crime is a regional problem and the opposition doesn’t pose solutions

So this brings us to crime. It is true that insecurity, especially in working-class neighbourhoods, is an issue of concern to Venezuelans. Crime and especially gun crime have been historic problems in Venezuela. But what accounts for the rise in crime, especially gun crime?

The proliferation of heavy artillery and guns in Venezuela, accompanying the drug trade, is massive. Despite concentrated government efforts to combat drug cartels moving cocaine through the country (ranking 4th in the world in seizures), most accounts recognize that drug trafficking is still prolific. Connected with this are unregistered firearms, with estimates ranging from 1,100,000 to 2,700,000, although this is likely much higher. This is of course a regional problem, with identical problems in similar statistics in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico. In Venezuela however, there is an added political motive to at least one important player in the crime and insecurity – paramilitaries from the Colombian conflict.

There are an estimated 4.5 million Colombians residing in Venezuela. The vast majority of these people have immigrated beginning in the 1990s and especially in the early 2000s, escaping the violence of the Colombian conflict and looking for ‘cheaper’ living conditions. The Venezuelan government began a regularization program in 2004.

During this same period, Colombia was ‘demobilizing’ paramilitaries linked to mass murders and drug trafficking. Some of these paramilitaries have gone into Venezuela within the wave of Colombians, to continue their previous activities. Paramilitary groups have been caught in Venezuela on numerous occasions and have assassinated pro-government activists in rural areas as well as in urban centres.

The problem of crime is not a national problem, but a complex regional problem that is inextricably related to drug trafficking.

So what is the opposition asking for to deal with crime? Opposition Mayors and Governors have in certain cases, such as in the rich municipality of Chacao, where much of the rioting in Caracas is taking place, have refused to fold their historically corrupt and brutal police forces and accept the centralized, Policia Nacional Bolivariana (who are provided with extensive training including in sociology and dealing with and relating to the community and peoples they service). So they are not asking for more police.

Instead, the only discernable call is for the disarmament of the ‘colectivos’ – armed, independent political organizations from militant, working-class neighbourhoods. Despite being characterized by the opposition as government sponsored paramilitaries, they pre-date the Chavez government and are known to sharply guard their autonomy from it. Moreover from that, these self-financed organizations are predominantly political in nature, running community programs, media and even beautification projects. Not only are these groups the first line of defense against a coup (as they were in 2002) but they are also on the front lines against crime. In the 23 de Enero neighbourhood for example, these groups came to an agreement with the municipal government to have police removed and operate their own neighbourhood watch. Crime in this neighbourhood is handled effectively, if somewhat severely.

The opposition’s lack of a clear vision for tackling crime betrays their disingenuousness.

6. The claims of ‘state repression’ and ‘media censorship’ are at best, exaggerated

Beyond the fact that the majority of those hurt or killed from the recent violence are victims of the protests, the issue of state repression is something people invariably question when they see an opposition leader jailed, or military deployed.

Leopoldo Lopez, the wealthy, Harvard-educated former Mayor of Chacao, was arrested following his promoting the escalation of street demonstrations against the government to generate ‘La Salida’ (The Exit). This led to three deaths on February 12 and at least seven since. Lopez, who during his time in office was sanctioned for influence-peddling and embezzlement of funds, as well as illegal fund transfers, took active part in the 2002 coup and led mobs searching for and assaulting Chavista ministers. Prior to his arrest, government officials revealed to Lopez’s family that there was a plan afoot to assassinate him, and acted to prevent this from happening (a fact that Lopez’ wife confirmed on CNN).

Aside from Lopez who was particularly brazen in his calls for the streets to take down the government, some 50 others are being held directly in connection with violence causing serious injury, such as the SEBIN officers in question around the murders of Bassil Dacosta and Juan Montoya, as well as a driver who ran someone over trying to avoid a protester barricade.

Importantly, it must be acknowledged that in Tachira and other places, students blocked roads and protested without any government or police interference and it was not until the official residence of Governor of Tachira was attacked that the any arrests were made. These arrests were the apparent catalysts that set off student demonstrations which escalated violence in Tachira and other cities.

Tweet from former Venezuelan General: “To neutralize the criminal hoardes on motorcycles, you should place nylon or GALVANIZED (Barbed) WIRE at 1.20 m in height across the mouth of an intersection”. Two people have been decapitated by this method so far (via Twitter @Gral_Vivas_P)
So then what about the control and clampdown of media? Despite claims to the contrary, the total broadcasters of the state have a tremendously low share of the market – only 5%. Opposition newspapers and websites operate without restriction, and as evidenced by the extent of falsified posts circulating over social media, these continue to operate freely. A morbid testament to this reality is a tweet sent by former General Vivas, instructing people to set up “nylon rope or galvanized wire at 1.20 meters height in the streets” in order to “neutralize the hordes”. At least two have died from such traps.

This violence also occurs less than a year after the violence following the 2013 presidential elections. Having narrowly lost the elections, opposition candidate Henrique Capriles called for people to go out and “discharge their rage,” leading to the deaths of seven pro-government activists and another 61 injured. In addition, violent opposition demonstrators burned several of the Barrio Adentro medical clinics, offices of the national telephone company, subsidized super markets, social housing as well as other social property. When we talk about context, there needs to be an acknowledgement that this, the assassinations and attempts on leaders (not just Chavez), the oil strike, the 2002 coup and the countless massacres and mass repressions under the previous regime, is the context.

Put into context, the Venezuelan government’s response to this level of reactionary street violence has been quite restrained and balanced by any standard, and would certainly not be tolerated in any part of North America by governments like Canada, the U.S., or Mexico. But the Bolivarian government understands that the opposition and its international backers are looking for just such a pretext to step-up their campaigns.

A section of the opposition has been calling and demonstrating capacity for armed insurgency. (via aporrea.org)
7. Overall, the opposition has demonstrated itself to be uninterested in democracy, dialogue and has never conceded the government

Over the last 15 years, 19 electoral events have taken place in Venezuela, 18 of which have been won by Chavismo. There are close to 40,000 communal councils, democratic and participatory citizen-initiated and run bodies, that can basically administer their neighbourhood. If Venezuelans think an elected official – any elected official, from bottom to the very top – is failing at their job, they can initiate a recall refendum vote. This was most spectacularly carried out against Hugo Chavez in 2004 (who won the referendum handily with 58% of votes in his favour). So how can Venezuela’s democratic credentials be questioned? Why are the characterization of the government as ‘autocratic’ and ‘totalitarian’ still so common?

Because the opposition says so.

The political opposition, which has not been able to win a presidential election since 1998, has cried ‘fraud’ after virtually every election in spite of testimony of international monitors to the contrary, and they have held all kinds of other posts through the same elections they decry. Capriles, for example, is still Governor of Miranda even while refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy of Venezuela’s electoral system.

Reports indicate that Danny Vargas was stabbed to death for trying to pass through a blockade in Tachira (via albaciudad.org).
This is the same opposition whose leading members organized and carried out the massacres that paved the way for their short-lived 2002 coup. This is the same opposition that took part in the coup which abolished the constitution, the national assembly, the judiciary, the ombuds, etc. At the time, Capriles was the Mayor of Baruta in Caracas and Lopez the Mayor of Chacao in Caracas. They both took active parts in the coup, including leading roving mobs looking for Chavista ministers and also participating in aggressions against the Cuban Embassy. Maria Corina Machado, a leader of the opposition, was a signatory to the Carmona decree which abolished the rule of law under the junta created by the 2002 coup.

This is also the same opposition that was government for 40 years prior to the election of Chavez – governments that were responsible for countless human rights violations and massacres. Under the Punto Fijo Pact, three parties agreed to a corporatist ‘power-sharing’ agreement. Many of the opposition players descend from these three parties. Antonio Ledezma for example, another major opposition leader and Mayor of the Greater Caracas area, was a Deputy of the National Assembly during the Caracazo massacre of 1989 that claimed 3,000 lives, and was also Governor of Caracas in 1992 when police were sent in to kill 200 prisoners in the Retén de Catia jail to quell a prison riot. These are the ‘democrats’ in Venezuela. These are the defenders of ‘human rights’ we are being presented with in the media here in North America.

This is an opposition that openly receives at least US$40 million per year from the United States to undermine the Bolivarian Revolution.

This is the also the opposition that has refused talks with Maduro.

This is an opposition that has never conceded that they are, in fact, the opposition. This is an opposition has simply refused to acknowledge that the majority of Venezuelans have opted to not have them in power. This is an opposition that has never let go of their entitlement, their privilege, their scorn for the poorer, darker majority that they saw reflected in Chavez, and now Maduro – a former bus driver.

8. Fascism and imperialism are very present threats to Venezuela

As much as it would be great to characterize the current situation as a small group of privileged extremists against a 99%, that is not the situation. While the opposition is undoubtedly under right-wing leadership and there is no – this bears repeating – no left or revolutionary tendency within the political opposition, there is a mass of people that have been won over to the political opposition.

More importantly, there is a section of the masses within the opposition that has demonstrated its willingness to use lethal violence to achieve its political ends.

Undoubtedly there are sincere elements within the ranks of the opposition and students who may be frustrated, disillusioned or simply duped by the haranguing about ‘cubanization.’ But there also also those who have been burning primary schools, supply trucks, public transportation, public institutions, blocking ambulances and setting up booby traps to kill and maim.

Colombian Paramilitaries captured training at private ranch in Tachira (via aporrea.org)
These are reactionary activities with reactionary ends. Fascism doesn’t simply involve a state oppressing people, but has historically implicated mobilization of a mass of people and using a section of that mass as a violent shock troop. This was true of Germany, as in Italy, as in Spain. In closer proximity to Venezuela, it was also true of Chile. The Colombian paramilitaries, who have been actively killing trade unionists, campesino organizers and anything ‘communist’ since the 1980s, are also an example of this and a player in this conflict.

It is simply not tenable to allow this activity and these groups to operate, to terrorize a population. Given the numerous avenues and channels for Venezuelans to organize themselves, replace politicians, run their spaces and communities outside of bourgeois institutions, violence against institutions of the people are unacceptable.

This is where imperialism fits in. Violence is being fomented in order to illicit a disproportionate and violent response from government or its supporters – a response that would justify a possible intervention of some sort. So far that has not happened.

However as events in Syria and Libya show, coupled with revelations yesterday of a captured, foreign mercenary in Aragua with plans to set off car bombs, the threat that cries of state ‘violence’ will be used to justify foreign intervention is real.

9. The majority of people still support the Bolivarian process and government – and we should side with them

Oil Workers rally in support of Maduro Government on February 18th, 2014 ( via Twitter @Ever_Marquina)
Forget about whether Venezuela’s economy is still capitalist, or whether its government is socialist or communist. The fact is that the majority of Venezuelan people still support it and the institutions of government.

Just this past December 2013, the Socialist Party and its allies won 76% of mayoralties. Just this week, the private consultancy firm Hinterlaces confirmed that 71% of the country feels that Venezuela’s political future should be decided through the constitutional electoral process. Only 29% support the government’s forced “exit” through street actions.

Perhaps more importantly, it is still evident on the streets and communities of Venezuela, where hundreds of thousands of oil workers, women, pensioners, youth, motorcyclists, community activists, peasants and other sectors have taken to the streets in separate marches across the country demanding peace and respect for their will.

“Peace Rally” by motorcyclists opposed to the opposition-led violence (via Reuters).


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Venezuela: The Real Significance of the Student Protests

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Venezuela: The Real Significance of the Student Protests PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dr Julia Buxton
Thursday, 20 February 2014 10:17

Protesting studentsSource: Latin America Bureau (LAB)

As the March 5thanniversary of Hugo Chávez’s death approaches, there is turmoil in Venezuela. Students have been protesting against the government in nation-wide demonstrations characterised by disorder and violence that have led to the death of three people. Initially organised to protest against economic shortages and insecurity, these demonstrations have been calling for ‘la salida’ – the exit of President Nicolás Maduro. They have been supported by sections of the opposition alliance, Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD), led by Leopoldo López and Maria Corina Machado.

For many commentators – and for the government itself – these events mark a rerun of earlier events, when the opposition pushed for the removal of Chávez through a failed coup in 2002, a private sector lock-out in 2002-3 and a recall referendum against Chávez in 2004. Maria Corina Machado, a signatory to the 2002 ‘Carmona Decree’ that temporarily dissolved the Chávez government, was a key protagonist of the recall referendum. Her ‘civil society’ organisation, Súmate, received funding from the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, where she was feted by President George Bush in May 2005.

Lessons All Round

The Chavistas learned a number of lessons from the events of 2002-2004: the importance of consolidating grassroots support (hence, the launch of the social policy initiative, the Missions); the need to build regional solidarity (hence, the acceleration of regional integration initiatives such as the ALBA); the capacity of the private sector to paralyse economic activity (hence, the deepening of the state’s role in the economy); and the urgency of countering false reporting on the country (hence, the funding of community and public media and new regulatory codes for broadcasting). It was this period that was the catalyst for the transformation of an initially centrist Third Way project into Socialism of the Twenty First Century.

The opposition similarly absorbed lessons, after anti-government unions, business associations and the local Roman Catholic Church failed to galvanise public opinion behind regime change in 2002. It adopted an electoral path as the balance of power swung to moderate factions, and radicals associated with unconstitutional tactics were pushed to the margins. This reaped dividends in national and regional elections after 2008 as the MUD focused on bread-and-butter voter concerns and wooedChavistas alienated by the government’s statist lurch with soothing language of reconciliation and promises to improve, rather than remove, the benefits delivered by the Missions. At the same time, the protagonist role of the private sector media was gradually tempered by introduction of European-style broadcast regulations.

US-based lobbies antagonistic toward the advance of Chávez’s socialism (and sympathetic to marginalised radicals) no longer saw these elements of ‘civil society’ as an effective oppositional vehicle and jettisoned them, deciding that a new tool for regime displacement had to be nurtured. Students in private sector universities became the new vanguard of ‘democracy promotion’.

Rise of the Student Opposition

In 2008, the US-based Cato Institute awarded the US$500,000 Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty to student leader Yon Goicoechea for his role in mobilising protests against the suspension of private broadcaster RCTV’s licence. At the same time, a sizeable amount of the US$45 million in funding provided annually by US institutions to Venezuelan opposition groups was channelled to ‘youth outreach’ programmes.

With financial support and media training, Venezuela’s student and opposition-aligned Juventud Activa Venezuela Unida (JAVU) became vociferous and mobilised, focusing after 2010 on the alleged censorship by the state of private sector broadcasters[1] and on government legislation intended to democratise the administration of the universities. The latter was portrayed as a threat to university autonomy and some public institutions, such as the Universidad Central de Venezuela, were driven into the opposition camp.[2]

In 2011 JAVU activists staged a hunger strike in support of ‘political prisoners’[3] and demanded that the Organisation of American States should intervene. Protests in 2012 focused on underfunding in the higher education sector and in 2013 demonstrations were organised outside the Cuban Embassy, first to demand the return of Chávez from chemotherapy in Havana and then to challenge the result of the April presidential election.[4]

Given this history of protest, why have the current protests gained such significance?

Venezuela%20students%205.jpgA Problematic Turn

The current protests are important on two counts. First, they mark a coming together of the student movement and radical elements of the MUD. López and Machado have been organising with the student leadership,[5] in particular in relation to the February 12th demonstrations on Venezuela’s Day of the Youth, which commemorates the role of young people in the 1814 independence battle of la Victoria.

Frustrated by the slow dividends of the electoral route, López and Machado are challenging the position of Henrique Capriles as MUD leader, even though he defeated them both in the MUD’s 2012 primaries. As Capriles in recent weeks has nudged closer toward dialogue with President Maduro on the issue of public security, following January’s murder of former Miss Venezuela Monica Spear, the uncompromising López and Machado have sought to open a chasm between Capriles and grassroots anti-government sentiment.

In turn, the student movement has embraced the ‘salida’ demand of López and Machado, threatening to stay on the streets until Maduro leaves office. This is against a backdrop of growing tension, with ongoing raids by security forces on private sector warehouse facilities, where food and goods are allegedly being hoarded to create artificial shortages, and with the interception of a recorded conversation between a former Venezuelan ambassador and a vice-admiral where plans for violence and ‘something similar to April 11th’ were being discussed.[6]

The second distinctive aspect relates to the role of social media. Although mobilisations and related violence have been on-going, with two student deaths in 2010, they have not received the same level of attention as the protests earlier this month. One indication of an orchestrated campaign has been the frenzied activity by opposition youth on Twitter, which seems to be substituting for the once vociferous but now calmer private sector media[7] that could traditionally be relied upon to galvanise international attention.

Despite claims that social media ‘democratises’ the media, it is clear that in Venezuela it has had the opposite effect, exacerbating the trend towards disinformation and misrepresentation, with overseas media groups and bloggers reproducing – without verification – opposition claims and images of student injuries allegedly caused by police brutality and attacks by government supporters. In its reporting, the Guardian newspaper[8] cited tweets by opposition activists claiming pro-government gangs had been let loose on protestors. No evidence to substantiate this extremely serious allegation was provided. It also reported on the arrest of 30 students on 12thFebruary, following serious disorder, including barricade building, tire burning and Molotov cocktail attacks, as if it were an egregious assault on human rights. The report was subsequently tweeted by Machado. By way of context, 153 students were arrested in the UK during the 2010 protests against tuition fees.

The images disseminated, for example, to a Green Movement activist in Iran and then circulated to her thousands of followers with the tag line ‘pray for Venezuela’s students’, and to other democracy movements around the world show Egyptian and not Venezuelan police beating demonstrators. This same image was carried by the Spanish newspaper ABC.[9]Photographs and video clips of Chilean, Argentinian and Bulgarian police suppressing demonstrators and carrying out arrests (in their home countries) have been circulated and published as of they were assaults in Venezuela,[10] and one widely reproduced image shows Venezuela’s Policia Metropolitana corralling student protestors. The Policia Metropolitana was disbanded in 2011. Twitter has additionally been used to harangue commentators, including this author, who checked the accounts of her abusive critics to find most had only been tweeting for a day and in that space of time had accumulated around 40,000 followers.[11]

Lessons Not Learned

Capriles has been steering the opposition down the electoral path in recognition of the fact that ordinary voters are alienated by violent protest and disorder. It has been widely acknowledged that such a strategy will take time to produce results, but it allows the MUD to build an electoral base and credibility as a political alternative. This hard work will be undone by a return to unconstitutional activities. The students and MUD radicals offer no governance plan, with ‘salida’ serving as a hash tag, not a strategy, according to one opposition blogger.

Just as in 2002, radicals have forgotten that the people they must convince are Venezuelan voters, not international opinion. There can be no short cut to replacing a movement and government that is genuinely popular. Attempting to induce regime overthrow is unnecessary when the option of a recall referendum is available, and it is irresponsible when the outcome of violent change will only be a cycle of violent revenge. Finally, journalists have yet to learn that authoritative reporting requires fact-based accounts, not recycled and unchecked tweets from Twitter – a mechanism that can be used to promote delusion as well as democracy.

Dr Julia Buxton is currrently Professor of Comparative Politics in the School of Public Policy, CEU, Budapest.

[1] http://www.csmonitor.com/World/terrorism-security/2010/0126/Venezuelan-students-protest-Chavez-s-TV-censorship; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/02/05/venezuelan-police-break-u_n_450824.html; http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/5104

[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-12071995

[3] http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/6021

[4] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/15/venezuela-protests-studen_n_3087449.html

[5] http://www.ventevenezuela.org/maria-corina-leopoldo-lopez-estudiantes-sindicalistas-sociedad-civil-lasalida/

[6] http://multimedia.telesurtv.net/web/telesur/#!en/video/descubren-planes-violentos-de-la-oposicion-venezolana

[7] http://globovision.com/articulo/comunicado-de-globovision-a-la-opinion-publica-8

[8] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/14/venezuela-violent-clashes-chavistas-opposition?CMP=twt_gu


[10] http://drdawgsblawg.ca/2014/02/constructing-venezuela-protests-a-photo-gallery.shtml#disqus_thread and http://www.tumblr.com/search/venezuela

[11] http://www.keywebdata.com/?p=525; http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/1-10-twitter-accounts-fake-say-researchers-2D11655362

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Venezuelan students fight police, ‘Chavistas’ rally

Does anyone know any more about what is going on in Venezuela? I know US embargo and pressure created difficult economic conditions in Cuba for decades so Maduro’s assertions sound reasonable to me. With corruption and hidden insanity endemic to most governments on Earth these days I would love to hear from Venezuelan people about the situation there.

From my limited knowledge in tbe US, I have long felt very inspired by the Bolivarian movement in South America. Evo Morales election in Bolivia and Chavez work to elevate the situation of indigenous peoples in Venezuela felt like the first steps of the new world to me.

Seeing what Western imperialism is still capable of in Libya and Syria is chilling when thinking of South America. 😦

Venezuelan students fight police, ‘Chavistas’ rally

By Andrew Cawthorne and Girish Gupta

CARACAS | Sat Feb 15, 2014 7:25pm EST

By Andrew Cawthorne and Girish Gupta

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan police fired teargas and turned water cannons on stone-throwing protesters on Saturday to stop them blocking a Caracas highway in a fourth day of sporadic unrest against President Nicolas Maduro’s government.

The latest trouble flared as night fell, after thousands of Maduro supporters had earlier flooded the center of the capital to call for peace and make a show of political strength after this week’s deadly violence during street protests.

Three people were shot dead on Wednesday in the worst violence since Maduro’s disputed election last year.

The 51-year-old successor to Hugo Chavez has faced two weeks of mainly small protests led by students and hardline opposition leaders complaining about Venezuela’s rampant crime, shortages of basic products, and alleged repression of political rivals.

“We’ll be here day-after-day, night-after-night, until something changes,” vowed Javier Sanchez, 20, picking up stones to hurl at police while other students shouted at him “Stop! No violence!” in the upscale Altamira district of Caracas.

After about 2,000 students had gathered peacefully in Altamira Square, debating strategy and chanting slogans in the afternoon sun, a few hundred set off to try and block a major highway. Police halted them before they could get there.

In a repeat of daily confrontations this week, the students threw objects and taunted the police, who responded with volleys of teargas and a water cannon truck, or “whale” as Venezuelans call it.

“People are asleep. It’s time for action,” said student Michael Paredes, 26, carrying vinegar and putting on a bandana to protect against teargas.

Staking his presidency on maintaining his mentor’s socialist legacy, Maduro accuses his rivals of trying to create conditions for a coup like the one 12 years ago that briefly ousted Chavez.


There are, however, no indications the current turmoil could lead to his ouster. The military, whose role swung both Chavez’s 36-hour toppling and return, appears solidly behind Maduro.

Addressing his supporters in Caracas from a pastel-colored stage displaying the slogan “People of Peace,” Maduro mocked the demands of protesters who want him to step down.

“You want to see people in the streets? We’ll give you people in the streets,” he said to cheers from thousands of supporters.

“I’m not going to give up one millimeter of the power the Venezuelan people have given me … nothing will stop me from building this revolution which commandant Chavez left us!”

Maduro said in his speech he had ordered the temporary closure of Metro station and the suspension of bus services in the east of the city, where the protests are centered.

Student leaders are vowing to stay out until Maduro falls, raising the prospect of a protracted crisis. But most rallies are attracting just a few hundred people, and the opposition’s political leaders are divided as to whether or not street demonstrations are the way forward.

The protests could, in fact, play into Maduro’s hands by helping him unite factions in the ruling Socialist Party and distract people from economic problems like shortages of goods.

He says Venezuela faces an “economic war” waged by the opposition, backed by U.S. financiers and made worse by speculators. Supporters say he is a victim of Western “imperial” propaganda and saboteurs seeking to discredit Chavez’s legacy.

“We have to celebrate the revolution, which is love and peace,” said Kaina Lovera, 16, wearing a white T-shirt emblazoned with the late Chavez’s face.


Maduro’s critics say he is wrecking the economy by sticking with failed Chavez-era policies such as currency and price controls, which many local economists blame for the shortages.

Among those critics is hardline opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, whom the government calls the “face of fascism” and the intellectual author of the violence.

The 42-year-old U.S.-educated economist says peaceful marches organized by his Popular Will party have been infiltrated by provocateurs and attacked by militant pro-government gangs known locally as “colectivos.”

Lopez remains in his home in the Chacao district of eastern Caracas where he was once mayor, colleagues said, despite a judge’s arrest warrant. It was not clear why police had not acted on that, though such a move could fuel further protests.

Maduro demanded on Saturday that Lopez surrender himself.

“The opposition organize these violent groups, and then they hide and cry,” the president said. “You fugitive from justice, trembling with fear, you fascist coward! Hand yourself in!”

Of 99 people arrested nationwide since Wednesday, most have been released pending trial with 13 still behind bars, Venezuelan judicial authorities say.

While Latin American leftist allies have sent messages of solidarity to Maduro and condemned the “coup” intentions against him, Western nations have called for calm and dialogue.

The United States, whose government has constantly crossed swords with Venezuela’s socialist administration since Chavez came to power in 1999, expressed concern over the detentions and arrest warrant for Lopez.

“These actions have a chilling effect on citizens’ rights to express their grievances peacefully,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement.

“We call on the Venezuelan government to provide the political space necessary for meaningful dialogue with the Venezuelan people and to release detained protesters. We urge all parties to work to restore calm and refrain from violence.”

(Additional reporting by Efrain Otero, Diego Ore and Eyanir Chinea, Will Dunham)


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Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez dies of cancer-Press TV

As mentioned in the article below, this was not a natural occurrence. If you look up the facts of what was done to Bob Marley, this case is disturbingly similar.

Those who stand up for the poor, for the people, for peace, and coming together to make the world better for ALL whave for so long been attacked, villified, hounded, and indeed even murdered. Despite those who have been programmed to equate Socialism with Fascism(which it is not) and oppression, this is a very, very sad day.

Socialism to my mind simply does not go FAR ENOUGH. Capitalism was built on slavery and imperialism, on the oppression of the many for the enrichment of the few. Not a good background, and it’s not showing any signs of improvement. (If it was really so great why do they have to murder everyone who successfully disagrees????)

I believe in Indigenism, and decolonization. Mr Chavez, unlike his critics, was a force for these things in the world. As one of the only leaders on the entire planet who enacted policies to actually HELP and protect the indigenous people oin his nation, and support the indigenous peoples across Latin America, both the man and his helpful influence will be sorely missed by many.

It is up to those who are left to remember those who have been murdered for trying to make our world better and help the truly oppressed. It is up to us to carry on the Bolivarian Revolution not only in Venezuela, and Latin America, but across our entire world.

His compatriot in the Bolivarian Revolution, President Evo Morales passed the first law recognizing the rights of Mother Earth. Let us move this Revolution forward in every country until there is no more oppression and suffering anywhere on Earth, until the Earth is more protected than the MONEY, until the waters are clean and the children are all fed.

And let us give thanks to Creator for sending us such a spirit as Hugo Chavez to stand against the powerful and bring this to the awareness of so many. I am praying for the spirit of Mr Chavez to pass in Love and Beauty, forgetting all pain and suffering, and knowing the gratitude of so many for all that he gave while here with us. May he be blessed for his good works, and forgiven his sins.

Venezuelas Hugo Chavez dies of cancer


Wed, 06 Mar 2013 00:18:32 GMT

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has died after a two-year battle with cancer, Vice President Nicolas Maduro has announced.

Maduro, flanked by political and military leaders, made the announcement on Tuesday evening on national television.

“We have just received the most tragic and awful information. At 4:25 p.m. (2055 GMT) today March the 5th, President Hugo Chavez died,” a tearful Maduro said, directly from a Caracas military hospital.

“Long live Chavez,” the officials surrounding Maduro chanted.

“It’s a moment of deep pain,” he said in the address.

Hours before Chavezs death, the Venezuelan vice president stated that someday there will be “scientific proof” that the socialist leader was infected with cancer by “imperialist” enemies.

“We have no doubt that commander Chavez was attacked with this illness,” Maduro said.

“The old enemies of our fatherland looked for a way to harm his health,” he noted.

On February 18, the 58-year-old Venezuelan leader returned to Caracas from Cuba, where he had cancer surgery.

Chavez traveled to Havana on December 10 for a fourth operation after his cancer reappeared, despite a year and a half of treatment.

In late March 2012, Chavez began radiation treatment in Cuba after an operation in February 2012 that removed a second cancerous tumor from his pelvic region. Chavezs first tumor, which was baseball-sized, was removed in June 2011, and then he received chemotherapy.

Chavez was born in a poor family on July 28, 1954 in Sabaneta, Barinas state, Venezuela.

He graduated from the Venezuelan Academy of Military Sciences in 1975.

Chavez became involved in revolutionary movements within the armed forces in 1977.

In 1992, he led a failed attempt to overthrow the government of President Carlos Andres Perez and was jailed for two years. Despite that fact that the coup failed, the incident launched his political career.

Chavez toured the country, electrified Venezuelans with his speeches, and won his first presidential election in 1998. He also won presidential elections in 2000, 2006, and 2012.

In 2002, a group of opposition politicians and troops backed by the United States staged a coup against Chavez. He was arrested and sent to a military base on a Caribbean island.

However, just two days later, the efforts of loyal military officers and massive demonstrations by Venezuelans swept him back to power.

Chavez founded the Bolivarian Revolution to establish popular democracy and economic independence and equitably distribute wealth in Latin America.

He was one of the key players in the progressive movement that has swept across Latin America over the past few years.