Rafael Osío Cabrices, who lives near the epicenter of the protests in Caracas, describes his family’s day-to-day struggle:
Throughout these dark days, my wife and I had been trying to keep our baby girl safe. Every day there have been protests in Plaza Altamira. A few nights have been very violent, and two even nightmarish. Those evenings, we had to take refuge in my home office, which has no windows that look into the street. There, between jazz records, old magazines, and a messy desk, my wife and our daughter slept in the guest bed while the National Guard hunted down the students they had just expelled from the square with tear gas and plastic shotgun pellets.
The National Guard wanted to take the students back to their headquarters, where, according to many student accounts, some would be tortured and handed back to their parents for a ransom that could climb to as much as $10,000 per prisoner. In U.S. dollars, of course—not even the regime’s thugs have faith in their own currency.
So we shut all the windows and waited there, gunfire and sirens blaring around us like a flock of Furies.
Mark Weisbrot defends the regime and blames the US for encouraging the anti-democratic opposition:
Washington has been more committed to “regime change” in Venezuela than anywhere else in South America – not surprisingly, given that it is sitting on the largest oil reserves in the world. And that has always given opposition politicians a strong incentive to not work within the democratic system.
Jackson Diehl examines how Latin American countries are reacting to the crisis:
Countries such as Colombia, Mexico and Peru, which opposed “Chavismo,” keep their distance, leery of picking a fight with a regime known for its combativeness. More sympathetic governments, led by Brazil, cite high principle in refusing to intervene: “Brazil does not speak about the internal situation of any country,” President Dilma Rousseff declared recently. Of course, that is not true. When the left-wing president of Honduras was ousted by its supreme court in 2009, Brazil led the charge to have Honduras expelled from the OAS. When Paraguay’s parliament impeached its populist president in 2012, Rousseff went on a diplomatic rampage, forcing Paraguay out of the Mercosur trade bloc. The real reason Brazil won’t act in Venezuela is ideological. “For Brazil it’s very important that Venezuela always be looked at from the point of view of advances . . . in education and health for the people,” Rousseff said. In other words, intervention is called for only when it benefits the left.
Previous Dish on the unrest in Venezuela here.
(Photo: An opposition activist helps set up barricades during a protest against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas on March 3, 2014. At least 18 people have been killed and 250 injured since a wave of protests began on February 4. By Leo Ramirez/AFP/Getty Images)