Monday 27 September 2021

For Venezuela, there may be no happily ever after

Paying the bills


Bianca, Mick Jagger’s first wife: “Nicaraguan by grace of God”

QCOSTARICA - Bianca Jagger, who was the first wife...

Alunasa, a Venezuelan state company in Costa Rica, leaves employees without salary

QCOSTARICA - The Venezuela state-owned company operating in Costa...

In Venezuela there is food, but expensive

Q24N - The Venezuelan economy has begun to reactivate....

Today’s Vehicle Restriction September 27: Plates ending in “1 & 2” CANNOT circulate

QCOSTARICA - For today, Monday, September 27, vehicles with...

Government will buy one million more covid vaccines for children and third doses in 2022

QCOSTARICA - The President of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado,...

Don’t forget the vehicular restrictions

QCOSTARICA - If you are out and about this...

UNA epidemiologist: “We are not better, we are less worse”

QCOSTARICA - The fact that the number of infections...
Paying the bills


In the face of rising protest, Venezuela’s government has called on the military to squelch dissent.
Efecto Eco /Wikimedia, CC BY

Last week, over seven million Venezuelans both at home and abroad voted against president Nicolas Maduro’s proposed Constituent Assembly, which would have empowered his administration to rewrite the country’s constitution.

But the logic of Venezuela’s republican institutions broke down long ago. This informal, unsanctioned referendum had no constitutional basis, and the government paid it little mind, promising to push ahead with the controversial plan despite overwhelming popular discontent.

Now opposition leaders have called for a 48-hour strike to keep the pressure on.

- Advertisement -

Both the July 16 vote and the general strike are an attempt to make rules for the grassroots exercise of democracy – a sign that Venezuelans have not yet forgotten this system of governance, despite mounting incivility that has left more than a hundred dead in just over three months of daily protests.

The perverseness of life here is no longer limited to the everyday turmoil of scarce resources, medicine shortages or spiralling crime. In Venezuela, the social contract has officially been shredded.

Venezuelans have drifted from a nightmare into an unreal world, as though living in the magical realism of Jorge Luis Borges, where anything is possible and everything can be invented.

Chronology of the absurd

In these profoundly liquid times, even political clashes in Venezuela have gone postmodern, creating something close to anarchy on the streets.

Each day, acting spontaneously and with no clear leadership, fighting factions in cities across Venezuela may (or may not) block streets of their own volition, penetrate university campuses and crush their opponents, trampling the basic standards of social coexistence.

Masked young demonstrators clash anonymously with state forces and destroy urban infrastructure, from street lights and sewers to the public transit.

- Advertisement -

The state, in turn, overreacts, relying on disproportionate use of police force and judicial overreach to try to stem dissidence. Human Rights Watch estimates there are now some 400 political prisoners in Venezuela.

Little is certain in Venezuela but this: the country is now living a low-grade war.

What else can you call a country in which barricades are raised every day in major cities, military troops are posted on the streets and where citizens routinely swallow tear gas?

All parties bear responsibility for this conflict. The protests are not peaceful as the opposition claims nor as violent as the government says.

- Advertisement -

Tensions have so escalated in recent weeks that no one really knows what triggered certain events nor what direction they’ll take next.

On June 27, which is National Journalists’ Day in Venezuela, unruly groups surrounded the National Assembly building, trapping members of Congress and the press for hours and bombarding them with insults and threats.

This was certainly not a minor event, but it turned out to be a mere dress rehearsal. Just over a week later, on July 5, the National Assembly was stormed during a ceremony commemorating the signing of Venezuela’s declaration of independence in 1812.

On this eminent civic date, a shouting horde burst into the chamber, threatening, landing blows, and bloodying up some members of the opposition party. Journalists, congressional staffers and several diplomats were held hostage for hours.

This fearsome event represented, in graphic detail, the kidnapping of Venezuela’s republican spirit.

Civilisation versus barbarism

Those familiar with Latin American literature will recall the region’s obsession, back in postcolonial days, with the topic of civilisation versus barbarism.

Today, these same forces have resurfaced in Venezuela. Subject to the anarchical forces of barbarism, citizens swing between resentment, hate and incomprehension, with little concern for the consequences of their actions.

Venezuela has lost the trappings of modernity.

Nobody is free from blame. The citizens, erroneously placed their bets on populism, and now the country has fallen prey to apathy, awaiting its next great leader.

Meanwhile, the Maduro government is embroiled in corruption and inefficiency, more interested in its own survival than in leading a spineless and weak-willed nation to salvation.

Protests have taken place every day since April in cities across Venezuela.
Hugo Londoño / flickr, CC BY

And the opposition, too, has failed: it has not developed any feasible alternatives for the future.

All told, the entire country has developed what seems to be a structural inability to engage in dialogue or negotiate solutions to the deep-rooted differences now ripping Venezuela to shreds.

What will become of this country?

Fairytale ending

Shunning the hard work of dialogue and debate, many Venezuelans are hoping for a Disney-style quick fix. But the real world does not work like a fairytale; the good guys don’t always win in the end.

IInstead, the opposition has worked up poorly thought-out possibilities, creating weak, one-off instances of parallel governance that have nothing to do with Venezuela’s institutional reality and no chance at institutionalisation.

The July 6 grassroots poll was one such event. In addition to asking Venezuelans about the government’s plan to make substantial (but largely undefined) changes to the country’s social and political organisation, there was another question in the non-binding referendum.


Results of the July 16 plebiscite. Over 7 million Venezuelans oppose the government’s plan.

This openly seditious second query suggested that the armed forces might repudiate and perhaps even remove President Maduro from office. It’s important to note that the Venezuelan people declared themselves openly in favour of this risky possibility.

Neither loud dissent nor nationwide conflicts can stop the Maduro government, which is intent on holding its power-grabbing Constituent Assembly. If the measure goes forward, the 545 members of the National Assembly could be elected as soon as this Sunday, and granted the power to redefine the provisions underpinning Venezuela’s republican structure.

Between these two approaches – the opposition’s weak mutinies and the government’s growing authoritarianism – there is a single country. But Venezuelans have demonstrated a sweeping inability to acknowledge each other’s existence in order to reach even the most basic agreement that could drive progress.

The ConversationIf the people can’t build a common and inclusionary strategy for the future, in Venezuela, there may be no “happily ever after”.

Miguel Angel Latouche, Associate professor, Universidad Central de Venezuela

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Article originally appeared on Today Venezuela and is republished here with permission.

- Advertisement -
Paying the bills
Q24N is an aggregator of news for Latin America. Reports from Mexico to the tip of Chile and Caribbean are sourced for our readers to find all their Latin America news in one place.

Related Articles

In Venezuela there is food, but expensive

Q24N - The Venezuelan economy has begun to reactivate. In supermarkets,...

Mexico finds a Latin American ally in Venezuela’s Maduro

Q24N - The recent summit of the Community of Latin American...

Subscribe to our stories

To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.

Article originally appeared on Today Venezuela and is republished here with permission.

Log In

Forgot password?

Forgot password?

Enter your account data and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Your password reset link appears to be invalid or expired.

Log in

Privacy Policy

Add to Collection

No Collections

Here you'll find all collections you've created before.