Protests continued today in Venezuela as the student movement took a life of its own, staging demonstrations in different parts of the country and trying to fight repression with pacifism. The results were not pretty, as two students were killed in the student scity of Merida in the Venezuelan Andes, as both sides accused each other of the deaths and the violence. But it was clear that the para-military groups in Merida, where the worst violence has taken place, were protected by the authorities. I refuse to label the two deaths students as being part of either side, they were both Venezuelans.
Meanwhile the pro-Chavze Governor of Merida State said that things were calm today, but the protest and the fighting continued as the urban guerrilla Tupamaros took the violence into residential areas where dozens of cars were burnt.
In Caracas, it was a whole different story, as students went to the Government’s TV station to protest and despite the presence of pro-Chavez violent groups, things were quiet as neighbors from the surrounding buildings came down banging pots to aid the students forcing Lina Ron and her thugs to stay back. The students were actually met by the officials of RCTV, but it is not clear anybody but Globovision was watching, such is the state of freedom of speech in Venezuela.
Everywhere where there are universities, students protested today, as the movement was incensed by the deaths yesterday. The Government tried to blame the protests on the opposition leadership, but the truth is that these are very spontaneous protests with no clear leadership other than a fiery student movement, tired of the Government’s repression.
But even the policemen looked tired (not so the National Guard) as they also have to endure the water and electricity shortages and the daily fight with uncontrollable crime.
Caracas is set to start rationing of electricity again as Chavez keeps trying to fight an external fight, which is not the right battlefront, and avoid dealing with the internal deterioration of the country. Venezuela has yet to feel the effects of the recent devaluation, commerce is still at a standstill because of the uncertainty in rules and while Chavez accelerates the signing of oil deals, like today’s with Italy’s ENI, the truth is that none of these will pan out, or help him much, until at least four years from now.
But rumors, protests and the reality of shortages continue to plague a Government that is used to throwing money to solve problems, but with oil down, the parallel funds drawn down and an incompetent military in charge of a civilian administration, there seemed to be no quick solutions and too many problems to solve for the beleaguered Chavez administration.
Even worse, those trying to solve the problems are the same recycled officials that mismanaged Venezuela in the last eleven years, but were given a reprieve by high oil prices in 2006-2008. Right now, the sense you get is that of a country with little direction and few quick fixes even before inflation doubles in the upcoming months.
Not a pretty picture, but let Hugo enjoy be blamed for the results of his destruction and irresponsibility.