Repress,Oppress,And Fragment

 Caracas Chronicles had a good piece on “The Fight For Political Control Of UCV’s Main Campus”. Since 1928, when a group of students led the opposition against dictator, Juan Vicente Gomez, several generations of “ucevistas” (the term for students at UCV, Venezuela Central University) have been the driving force behind protests against governments in Venezuela, both dictatorial and democratic. This has laid the groundwork for those who have been at the forefront of the political leadership of the country. Political parties have seen UCV as a place that guarantees representation and new faces in their ranks, however, in recent times things seem to have gotten out of control.

 The latest elections for FCU, the student leadership body, were a sad spectacle. Both candidates for President of FCU (FYI, both opposed Maduro) accused each other of fraud, tampering with the system, vote buying, and failure to follow guidelines set by their respective party’s leadership. Both sides claimed victory and the results are still a mystery.

 Many believe that FCU has become an empty shell and the student movement is far from the robust and confrontational force that led some of the main protests against Hugo Chavez (initially for Chavez) and Nicolas Maduro (they’ve never supported Maduro). Since the outbreak of the pandemic 40% of students have left UCV (and many left before that joining the migrant exodus). Since 2007, when students led the movement that defeated Hugo Chavez’s constitutional referendum (the only election he lost), the leadership of the opposition, including interim President, Juan Guaido, has come from UCV.

 Before Chavismo,socialism and communism were a fad at UCV. Once in power, Chavez and Maduro broke the student body’s leftist tradition. Chavez, although not an academic, even though he had a college degree, knew the importance of the student movement in the 1990s and it helped propel him to power and backed him in the early years of his presidency. Chavez created two new academic institutions as well as the so-called “student militia”. Students felt they were a part of “The Revolution”.

 This is where I think the article stopped short of connecting the dots on the big picture. I would contend that Chavismo used the same game plan (Chavez, through maneuver and Maduro through blunt force) to repress, oppress, and fragment the student movement as it used with all other areas of society and structure in Venezuela, including the military.

 The student movement, although not the primary force, was a driving force behind the massive protests in 2014 (the “Guarimba”) and 2017. They were repressed by Maduro head-on killing 40 protesters in 2014 and 140 in 2017 (not to mention thousands wounded and imprisoned).

 Then he kept them oppressed through Chavismo’s usual means of threats,extortion, bribery, etc. (not to mention examples of murder and kidnapping) It’s surprising the chilling effect a killing here or there or a forced  disappearance here or there can have. The overall impoverishment of Venezuela also weakened the ranks of the student movement (through migration or working to help support their families), as did Covid-19.

 The fragmentation of the student movement was accomplished using all the previously mentioned tactics as well as a well coordinated and pervasive social media propaganda campaign.

 Repress, oppress, and fragment…it’s no secret how Chavismo operates and as to why? …Well, because it works! The student movement, the military, the opposition, pretty much everywhere you look, you see the Chavistas pulling the strings. They may not be in total control but they are in control nonetheless.

 Now for a few of the news items hanging out there. The Family and Victim Alliance of 2017 condemned the Prosecutor General’s statement that the protests were a “civil war embryo.” I guess that’s the justification for killing 140 unarmed protesters participating in an organic movement against shortages, impoverishment, and oppression and wounding thousands.

 And on the oppression front we have Yohn Noguera arrested for publishing a WhatsApp story criticizing GNB (army) officers for closing down businesses.

 Then we have People’s Daily citing a Telesur (government media) report that child labor is common in the US. The Telesur article cited US Department of Labor statistics and the US Fair Labor Standard Act which says children over the age of 12 can work unlimited hours on farms as long as they don’t miss school. They fail to mention that this is to allow children to work on farms owned by their families.

 And we have IPS News telling us that NAM (Non-Aligned Movement) countries appear to be drifting away from the US, EU (European Union), and Russia but still want an open relationship with China. They cited the large number of abstentions in an April vote at the UN (United Nations). Venezuela couldn’t vote because of unpaid UN dues. How is it that Maduro can afford to travel the world with his entourage on his world tour promoting deepening of ties (not to mention those “historic, strategic agreements”) but they can’t pay Chavismo’s UN dues?

 Then we have FX Empire reporting that the Norwegian Foreign Ministry announced that delegates from the Maduro regime and Venezuela’s opposition will be attending the Oslo Forum, an international event focused on conflict mediation. Norway has been the mediator for various rounds of talks (all failures) between the regime and the opposition and expect to do so in the upcoming negotiations in Mexico, although the Chavistas have demanded (they do a lot of demanding) Russia replace Norway as mediator this round, a position they seem to have backed-off. If this is some kind of dress- rehearsal for the upcoming talks I would expect, in the interest of authenticity and consistency, the Chavistas will throw up their hands at some point, kick the table, claim they’re the victims of one thing or another, and walk away, shouting future demands over their shoulders.

 Then we have The National Interest asking the question, “Was The Summit Of The Americas Worth It?” The short answer is No! “If summits were the measure of a region’s importance, Latin America would be a superpower.” Summits accomplish about as much as Nicolas Maduro’s “historic, strategic” agreements…nothing. And to National Interest’s point, it seems like when Nicolas Maduro isn’t traveling around begging for money and/or investors, he’s hosting a summit every week or two in Caracas for one thing or another…like his “Anti-Fascism” Summit. Nothing says anti-fascism like the indiscriminate killing of protesters…right Nico?

 And La Prensa Latina reports that xenophobia is rising against Venezuelans in Peru. There are 1.3 million Venezuelans in Peru and 540,000 Venezuelans in Ecuador that have fled the ravages of 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism.

 And CNN reports that Matthew Heath, former marine, considered wrongfully detained by the US State Department (almost two years), has attempted suicide. The family was notified through private channels, not government.

 Then we have (I didn’t know he was still around) telling us that with Colombia electing a communist president, South America is in danger of becoming a leftist continent (again?). Only Brazil remains but leftist, Lula, is leading in the polls. Optimists hope Colombia will not follow Venezuela and go from prosperity to abject poverty under 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism. The ghosts of Castro and Chavez continue to haunt us.

 And we have Container News reporting that French container carrier CMA has suspended service to two Venezuelan ports. No explanation given.

 Then we have the US – DOJ (Department of Justice) telling us that a 5th Venezuelan has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess cocaine in a smuggling case involving 11 individuals.

 And Wales Online tells us that, Niloha Rangel, a pediatrician, was persecuted and imprisoned by the Maduro regime after participating in the protests of 2017 and giving an anti- regime radio interview. She escaped Venezuela disguised as a grandmother in a wheelchair and now lives in the UK. (another day another political prisoner story)

 More tomorrow….

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