VZLA: BETWEEN THE SWORD AND THE WALL.
After months of protests Venezuela’s crisis remain uncertain...
It’s not an equal fight. Armored vehicles against people on foot. Wooden shields, rocks and Molotov cocktails against full antiriot gear, tear gas, rubber bullets and occasionally real bullets. Thousands of civilians in the streets against a few hundreds of soldiers tasked with only one thing: end the protests.
For over four months people in Venezuela took the streets to protest the regime of Nicolás Maduro and the lack of solutions to the unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the country.
It all started with a demostration that ended up in a clash against the Bolivarian National Guard that took place on april 1st of 2017. Since then, tear gas has "choked" the population of various cities on the country. Helmets, makeshift vests and gas masks became part of the mandatory equipment of "La Resistencia", the growing group of protestesters willing to take on the soldiers.
It didn't take long for everything to spiral out of control. Clashes became more and more violent between the youth and government forces that try to end the protest. The death toll started to rise. The security forces started to engage in excess of force when they try to disperse the rallies and also during the arrest that followed. Sometimes they not only go after the protesters but also against the press corp that cover the event who were at times stripped of their equipment.
Now, after over 130 days of protests, the anti-government movement seems to collapse with a leadership divided from mainstream opposition and the setup of a Constituent National Assembly chosen by Maduro. For the next two years this assembly will have "superpowers" that go beyond the Constitution in order to change it. On top of that, on october 15th the ruling party won 18 out of the 23 governors offices of the country in an election that was contested by the opposition.
Meanwhile the population licks its wounds. The protests final toll was more than 120 killed, over 4000 arrested and almost 530 civilians turned over from civilian justice to military courts.
With the international community more worried than ever, economic sanctions agains chavismo leadership -including Maduro himself-, but with also an even more challenging response from the so called revolution, the population got caught in the middle. Some estimate that over 2 million venezuelans had fled the country escaping from an uncertain future.
Beyond the street battles, the causes for the uprising remain. In the country with the largest oil reserves in the world, people cannot afford to eat as food has become a luxury item. Over 93% of the population -according to some statistics- are having problems when it comes to afford the means of survival. Inflation also surpass 800% this year. Some NGOs have reported a 90% shortage in food. Just in the last year there was over 20.000 murders, and that according to official records... The unofficials place it as high as 30.000.
As the situation got worst the opposition leadership became more divided. Radicals on both sides started to act on their own and anarchy is slowly taking over.
The government lacks popular support but still has the military on its side. Negotiations and presidential elections (even thought the National Election Board has been accused of being fraudulent) seems like the only non-violent solution to end the human rights violations and achieve the peace that Venezuela needs.
Justice, it seems, will have to wait...