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(en) El Libertario: Twelve F.A.Q. about what is happening in Venezuela (ca)

Date Tue, 25 Feb 2014 12:44:27 +0200

1) Are the protests in Venezuela led by opposition parties on the right? ---- No. The current wave of protests began in the city of San CristÃbal (Tachira) on Feb. 4 when students denouncing security issues on the university campus were met with repression and several were jailed. The consequent protests focused on liberating the detained students, spread to other cities and were also met with repression, intensifying student unrest. It was in this context that a faction of the opposition launched a proposal for street demonstrations dubbed ÂLa Salida to demand President MaduroÂs resignation, while another faction opposed the idea of street demonstrations focused on this larger, single demand. Despite the arrest of the conservative politician Leopoldo LÃpez, the widespread protests all over the country have overwhelmed and Âsurpassed on the left the opposition political parties.

2) Are the protests in Venezuela part of a coup against MaduroÂs government?

- In Venezuela, a country with a history of military coups, there is
always some possibility that events will take that turn. However, the
current situation is very different from 2002 when Hugo Chavez was
temporarily taken out of power by a coup. After that date, the armed
forces were politically cleansed at high and middle ranks; those who
filled the open positions were ideologically committed to the government
and further secured by receiving a free charter to control various country
businesses. The most likely source of a coup today in Venezuela is one
Chavista faction or another. Their aim would be to ensure the countryÂs
governability so that the military along with energy transnationals may
continue to operate successfully in the country.

3) Are the protests connected to a Âconspiracy on the part of private
media networks in Venezuela?

- Today, broadcasting stations have been silenced by the government of
NicolÃs Maduro. The last nationwide network, GlobovisiÃn, was bought by an
entrepreneur with ties to the government, who modified its informational
approach. Radio stations and newspapers are being pressured to not report
on the protests based on the argument that doing so incites Âviolence.Â
In addition, print media suffers from a lack of paper due to the controls
on foreign currency exchange imposed by the government. For this reason,
protestors have taken responsibility for generating their own reports,
making extensive use of social media networks.

4) Are the protests only aim to oust President NicolÃs Maduro from power?

- This is a movement without a center, and there are many demands. To sum
them up, there are two agendas: one from Caracas and one from the cities
in the interior of the country. From Caracas, the majority demands are the
PresidentÂs resignation, the liberation of political prisoners, and the
rejection of violence. From the other cities, which have suffered
extremely for years from the interruption of public services and the
scarcity of basic goods, the problems of soaring inflation, scarcity, and
lack of water and electricity are also a central majority focus.

5) Are the protests limited only to the middle class?

- In Caracas, the majority of protestors are middle class people and
students from public and private universities. In the interior of the
country, the situation is completely different and many in the popular
sectors take an active part in the protests.

6) Are the images that have been circulating of repressive acts in
Venezuela all false?

- There are some who have maliciously or innocently spread images and
videos that do not correspond to current events in Venezuela, but social
media networks have proven to be very good at self-regulation and have
successfully denounced these as false and educated users on how to verify
information before sharing it. The governmentÂs strategy has been to
Âattempt to show that since 3, 4, or even 10 images are false, all the
others are also. But the facts are there, recorded through the
technological devices of dozens of witnesses of the governmentÂs

7) If it isnÂt the political parties, then whoÂs organizing the protests
in Venezuela?

- In the end, the political parties have had to join in on the protests
and have triedÂup to now unsuccessfullyÂto channel them. For example, the
Mesa de la Unidad DemocrÃtica (MUD) called for three days free of
demonstrations after February 12 for mourning, and people disobeyed,
continuing on the streets. Many launch initiatives through social media
networks; some are picked up and go viral; others fall on deaf ears and
are forgotten.

8) If NicolÃs Maduro resigns, will Venezuela return to its past state of
affairs before ChÃvez?

- No. First, in the case that should happen, it is impossible to turn back
the achievements regarding progressive rights established by the
Constitution and internationally backed. Second, it is impossible that, as
some believe, the ÂoppositionÂÂwhatever we understand that to meanÂwill
oust Âchavismo from ÂpowerÂÂin the broadest meaning of that term. The
Bolivarian movement has a broad base that, regardless of how the protests
end up, will continue figuring centrally in Venezuelan politics in the
near and not so near future.

9) What is happening with political repression in Venezuela now?

- As of this date, there have been 11 deaths related to the
demonstrations, the majority a direct result of repressive units. An
estimated 400 people have been detained for participating in the protests.
Just in Caracas, according to counts from the human rights center of the
Catholic University DDHH, 197 have been released, 7 remain detained, 6 are
disappeared or unaccounted for, 8 have been deprived of liberty by court

10) Who is repressing the protests in Venezuela?

- Mainly the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB), the Bolivarian National
Intelligence Service (SEBIN), and paramilitary groups indirectly funded
and openly encouraged by the government.

11) What role does US imperialism play in Venezuela?

- President Barack Obama and the State Department publicly condemned the
restriction of democratic liberties in Venezuela. This led NicolÃs Maduro
and his followers to accuse them of meddling in the internal affairs of
another country and violating VenezuelaÂs sovereignty. Despite insisting
that the US is behind the protests, Maduro has also invited the North
American government to reestablish diplomatic relations between the two
countries. On the other hand, Chevron continues to have many productive
business deals in Venezuelan territory in the areas of gas and oil
exploitation through contracts signed by President ChÃvez that are good
for another 30 or 40 years. The US continues to be VenezuelaÂs greatest
Âcommercial ally. Venezuela sends its largest quota of exported energy to
the US and in turn imports many products from the US to address the
countryÂs scarcity problems. Finally, NicolÃs MaduroÂs government revoked
CNNÂs working credentials, accusing the network of Âviolating Venezuelan
laws, only to renew them 24 hours later, inviting CNN to return to the
country. The governments of other countries in the region have also
expressed either support or concern regarding the situation in Venezuela.

12) What is the role of social movements in Venezuela at this juncture?

- During the last 15 years social movements have suffered from a policy of
active state intervention that has diminished and divided them and often
resulted in their being coopted. Lamentably, the few groups that have
persevered with some degree of autonomyÂfor example a few labor unionsÂare
too weak to have any real impact on the current situation.

Latest information on the situation in Venezuela (in Spanish):

Information about Venezuela, from a radical and alternative approach, in
English and other languages: www.nodo50.org/ellibertario

Periodico El Libertario
ellibertario@nodo50.org - ellibertario@hotmail.com
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