Venezuela’s students don’t let up pressure (Updated)

| June 7, 2007

(Photo from Venezuela Llora, Venezuela Sangra)

Even though the media has pretty much ignored events in Venezuela this week, Venezuela Llora and Venezueal News and Views reports that protests continued yesterday. From Venezuela Llora;

Professors, workers and the students of the UCV (Universidad Central de Venezuela) had called upon a march on Tuesday, the students from all the other houses of study answered. However the goverment refused to allow them to march that day, so the date was switched to Wednesday. Once again the goverment tried to not allow the march to happen, however this time the students decided that theyre were going to march.

Daniel at Venezuela News and Views writes that the Venezuelan police tried to stop bus loads of students from entering Caracas;

…now that we are under a not that veiled military regime, some stupid Captain, thinking he had more power than he really did took upon himself to stop buses coming up to Caracas full of students wanting to join the march. So, this lout thought he would scare students but these just decided that if they could not go up to Caracas no one else could. Soon, as the ARC was falling into a deadly lock everyone was allowed to Caracas. I wonder what that Captain learned today: democracy or shooting first? And that sad scene repeated at many exits of the ARC. Funny detail: Iris Varela claims that the students were sabotaging, “esos niñitos” she said, while Globovision showed the Nazional Guard trucks blocking highway access! Then again Varela has been living in a parallel universe for quite a while.

This photo is from Venezuela News and Views. The sign reads “Please excuse the inconvenience, we’re working for your liberty”

The Devil’s Excrement has videos and narratives of yesterday’s events. 

Mary Anastacia O’Grady explained in an article entitled “The Young and the Restless” from Monday’s Wall Street Journal why it’s so significant that students are protesting;

Until now, students have not played a role in anti-Chávez activism. Eight years of property confiscations, the jailing of government adversaries and the manipulation of voter rolls and elections prompted almost no student response at all. But the attack on free speech hit a nerve and sent them to the streets. This has captured the attention of the nation because student resistance movements have an important history in Venezuela. In recent days many have been recalling that it was an uprising from the universities that precipitated the fall of dictator Marcos Pérez Jiminez in 1958.

Still, it is not clear that this is a grassroots movement that will run Mr. Chávez out of town. It is true that the students who are out in the streets attend the large state-run schools and therefore probably do not come from Venezuela’s elite families. But they are not from the nation’s most destitute families either, where Mr. Chávez finds his strongest support. It is safe to say that they mostly represent the country’s middle and lower-middle income sectors. Yet it is notable that the protests have spread beyond wealthy Caracas to include public universities in poorer parts of the country where student bodies tend to be even more humble.

What is also new, and even more interesting, about this resistance movement is its focus on “freedom” and calls to end “the dictatorship.” Mr. Chávez’s beloved Revolution may have once claimed the moral high ground by asserting that its enemies plotted a nondemocratic coup on April 11, 2002. But now the president and his chavistas seem to be the ones on the defensive, with polls showing more than 70% of Venezuelans opposed to the closing of RCTV. This suggests that the dissatisfaction does indeed cut across economic classes.

Please read these articles in their entirety, the writings of people on the scene and the very knowledgable Ms. O’Grady (who has been warning us for years about Chavez in the pages of the Wall Street Journal) are all we’re going to get on this important story, apparently. I’m disappointed that the Administration isn’t doing more to stop this two-bit thug – just like I’m disappointed that Congress won’t lift a finger to condemn Chavez.

Associated Press (by way of Fox News) writes that Chavez is calling for a Latin American socialist defense bloc;

President Hugo Chavez called for the creation of a common defense pact between Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia, while the leftist Latin American bloc announced the creation of a development bank to finance joint projects.

Chavez said Wednesday that the four-nation Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, or ALBA, which began as a socialist-leaning trade group, should cooperate militarily to become more independent of U.S. influence.

“It seems to be the moment to establish a joint defense strategy,” Chavez said. He called for joint military aid as well as intelligence and counterintelligence cooperation “to prepare our people for defense so that nobody makes any mistake with us.”

I guess that way Chavez doesn’t have to worry about using Venezuelan troops to put down the protests in his own country, he can use the police and armed forces of other countries against his own people in the model of Robert Mugabe.

Chavez also called the failed US call for an investigation of the Venezuelan government’s closing of RCTV “a great defeat for the empire” according to AP; 

President Hugo Chavez said Wednesday that the United States suffered a humiliating defeat in its move to condemn Venezuela internationally for forcing an opposition-aligned TV station off the airwaves.

Chavez began a news conference by playing a video of heated debate between his foreign minister and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at an Organization of American States meeting in Panama on Tuesday. The OAS declined to adopt a U.S. request to investigate his government’s removal of Radio Caracas Television from the air.

“A great defeat for the empire,” said Chavez, who said OAS member countries had refused “to play (Washington’s) game” and instead backed his government.

“It was the greatest defeat _ a moral defeat, a political defeat,” said Chavez, who maintains the government made a proper legal decision not to renew the channel’s license.

Since the OAS can’t summon the testicular fortitude to stand up to this pompous shrimp, it is a defeat for all of the people of Latin America – their weak-kneed tacit approval of the silencing of Chavez’ opposition can only embolden Ortega, Correra and Morales to crush dissent in their own countries. Ultimately, it’s liberty that has been defeated.

And at least some Cubans in the United States see the parallels between their plight and that of Venezuelans.

Speaking of Cubans, I found this on Babalu Blog;

Cuban workers are also the only ones working at that mysterious “city” that is being built near Carayaca. Those Cuban workers should be the concern of the local criollo unions.

With the complicity of the Chavez Government they are being subjected to a truly savage exploitation, of the pre-capitalist savage style, a feudal savage style, which would make you laugh at the neoliberal type. They do not contract the workers; the Cuban state does it from them.

They receive as payment less than the Venezuelan minimum salary and the Cuban Government charges for each worker US$ 600, of which the worker and his family in Cuba, see nothing but US$ 20, in pesos.

I guess that’s what Venezuelans have to look forward to from the Chavez government. How long before Chavez starts exporting his opponents to work in Cuba to prop up that collapsing regime?  

UPDATE: Daniel at Venezuela News and Views recounts today’s events at the National Assembly – the studaents had to be transported out by armored car for their own protection from the chavezistas – reminicient of Noriega’s Dignity Battalions.

Category: Foreign Policy, Hugo Chavez, Politics

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