Last month there was a lecture on Venezuela, organized by a Dutch organization called JASON Institute. The event caught my attention as I have written blogs about this country before and seeing the title they chose for the evening (“Venezuela, an explosive country?“) I realized I was hopelessly out of the loop.
The last blog I wrote about Venezuela was in March 2014, after the elections and subsequent riots and police violence that resulted in several dozens of dead civilians. I ended this blog with the following analysis:
At this moment there are still masses on the streets, both in favor and against the government. It is difficult to predict if either group will shrink or cross over to the other side. One thing that is sure, the government can definitely not go on denying the occurrences by showing cartoons on TV all day and censoring the daily news coverage. If Maduro wants to survive, he shouldn’t have to rely on manipulating the news. If he has any integrity in him, he should show true lament for what has happened to his fellow countrymen and find a way to move forward, taking all of Venezuela’s citizens into account.
That was over 14 months ago, and now this is what the streets of Caracas (reportedly) look like:
So over a year has passed since I last tuned in and the pictures in the newspapers look pretty much the same as they did at the time of my previous blogs. So what happened? What didn’t? What should have happened? Who’s calling the shots? How dangerous / explosive is the situation really? Is it merely a national struggle or is it influencing (or being influenced by) other actors in the global arena?
And just as this issue was starting to fade back out of reach for my gold fish attention span, Venezuela was suddenly a point of discussion in the Dutch house of representatives, as members of different parties (VVD (one of the governing parties)), PVV, CDA en D66 (all three are opposition parties) expressed their concerns over the rising threat from this South American country. They commented our minister of foreign affairs, Bert Koenders, was not taking the situation seriously enough and that the Dutch Caribbean islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao) were not being offered the support they needed in the face of the instability on the Venezuelan mainland, only 30 to 80 kms from their respective coastlines. VVD-member ten Broeke spoke of a “ticking timebomb”, to which Koenders reacted by saying Venezuela isn’t a threat but “a risk” that is being closely monitored by the Dutch government.
Sadly, I didn’t go to the lecture last month and am therefore unable to quote any of the experts that attended and am struggling to formulate some sort of clever analysis of my own, let alone a sound conclusion. What I know is that there are political prisoners on hunger strike and new protests have been announced for this weekend, while Maduro tries (and fails) at distracting us with some showdown with neighboring Guyana.
The part of my brain that usually lights up while blogging seems to be dealing with a power shortage though and all my little writer gnomes are sitting around with candles, struggling to find their way around. The only flashlight in the room is being used to read the pages on matters in the Middle East…
But I’m going to press the “Publish”-button anyway and let all of this marinate for another while and then try again in < fill in an acceptable amount of time >. In the meantime, feel free to fill me in if you have any thoughts on any of this…