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  HOME | Opinion (Click here for more)

VenEconomy: Venezuela’s Government Keeps Using Brute Force

From the Editors of VenEconomy

Since January this year, the government has been running an implacable, persistent race to strip the regional authorities belonging to the democratic alliance of the mandates they were given by the population in November 2008. Yet, what Hugo Chávez and his subordinates are demonstrating with this attitude is that they are shaking in their shoes. Listen to what they crow about and you’ll know what their weak spots are.

After ten years of enjoying absolute power and having access to resources wholesale, the Chávez administration has very few achievements to write home about. Faced with that harsh truth, the guardians of the Chavista process fear that any passable performance by opposition governors and mayors will inevitably show up the ineptitude, bad management, and inefficiency of the “Bolivarians,” not to mention the corruption and other trifles. Hence the fury and violence with which the government, at all levels, has attacked Antonio Ledezma, César Pérez Vivas, and Henrique Capriles Radonski, in particular.

Initially, this aggression was “limited” to stripping opposition governors and mayors of their spheres of competence and the budgets to which they are entitled under the Constitution and the law; then came the physical aggression and attacks by Chavismo’s violent supporters against opposition mayors and governors and their officials.

As though that were not enough, in recent weeks, government aggression, headed by the National Guard, has been exceeding those “limits” in order to cause problems for the people living in the states and municipalities governed by the opposition.

Three incidents suffice to show how serious this situation is.

In early July, in some small towns in the Barlovento region of Miranda state, where Capriles Radonski is governor, the Executive ordered the eviction of Miranda State Police, for no rhyme or reason, legal or otherwise. The measure was carried out in arbitrary fashion at rifle point by the National Guard. But the local inhabitants did not take it lying down. In Caucagua, they put up resistance and forced the National Guard to negotiate with them; and in Curiepe, already warned about what was about to happen, resistance was more radical and they confronted the National Guard with drums and stones. Even so, in the end, the Miranda Police left their headquarters and have been located elsewhere, and Curiepe is now under military occupation.

The second incident occurred on July 27 in Táchira state, governed by Pérez Vivas. That day, two truckloads of men from the 21st Infantry Brigade turned up at TorbesSchool for blind children in San Cristóbal and abruptly evicted all the personnel and threw out all their belongings in order to hand the premises over to a Barrio Adentro unit (primary medical care) that had claimed it. This school caters to 45 children who are blind or have poor vision and has a staff of 31 teachers, administrators, and workers. Regardless of the reasons for the eviction, there is absolutely no justification for brutally carrying out the eviction of a school at rifle point.

The third incident happened last night, Wednesday, July 29, in El Clavo, Acevedo Municipality, also in Miranda state. This time the National Guard’s target was an outpatients unit. However, when they tried to evict the occupants by force, they came up against firm resistance from the locals, as a result of which some were injured and others ended up in jail.

This type of attitude is typical of dictatorial governments, who, as they have no arguments with which to convince the population, use brute force to bring them to heel. Not in vain do they say that violence is the weapon of those who are in the wrong.

VenEconomy has been a leading provider of consultancy on financial, political and economic data in Venezuela since 1982.

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