I can only worry about the decision by Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro to declare a State of Emergency in five municipalities of Tachira State, a state that borders with Colombia.
To begin with, the action that originated it, the non-deadly shooting of some military personnel carrying out an anti-smuggling operation in that State, is certainly not the most serious incident either near the border, nor in Venezuela, to justify decreeing a State of Emergency.
But the extent of the terms of the State of Emergency, seems a little exaggerated and certainly prone to abuse. While we do not know the terms of the decree, which has yet to be published, according to the Governor of Aragua State (Why him?) who made the announcement in the name of the Government, Articles 47, 48, 50, 53, 68 and 112 of the Constitution have been suspended in those municipalities. So that you don’t have to go read the Constitution if you don’t want to, these articles deal with:
-Neither home nor your private communications can be intervened without a judicial order to do so.
-You can move freely and with your property around the country and leave the country as you wish.
-You can gather publicly and privately for legal purposes.
-You have the right to protest peacefully.
-You have the freedom to devote yourself to the private economic activity of your choice.
Now, while Governor El Aissami said that Human Rights would be preserved, suspending all of these article of the Constitution constitutes a violation of democratic principles and it is hard to imagine how these articles can be suspended and any action taken without the violation of Human Rights. If your home is invaded, if your communications are violated, if you can not gather with others or protest and if you are not allowed to carry out your daily business, your human rights are being abused and violated. No democracy can afford to suspend all or any of these rights guaranteed by the Venezuelan Constitution.
But even more importantly, how is it that an incident like the one that caused this leads the Government to suspend all of these guarantees, but, for example, the death of 30-40 people, including cops in clashes in Caracas’ Cota 905 do not require the same reaction?
The answer is simple: Maduro could care less about the incident, he was just looking for an excuse to create an incident with Colombia, given that the clash with Guyana did little or nothing to increase his popularity. In fact, Maduro made some very incendiary statements about the Colombians that are coming to Venezuela, at a time that such a flow is minimal, given that economic conditions on this side of the border are so unattractive. In fact, as I described in my previous post, the reverse is true, for the first time in a long time, the flow is in the opposite direction, as Colombians with Venezuelan papers are flooding the border area as they flee scarcity and hyperinflation.
And as you an see in the following video, even if the border is closed, it is not closed for expelling Colombians that live in Venezuela (Nobody knows if legally or not, nobody asked), as they were not only bused out of the country, but badly treated:
In the video you can even see kids being expelled without due process and one of the guys, who lives in Venezuela states they were treated like dogs and denied food for two days. And there are reports of the National Guard searching homes in these counties, painting a very fascist R in red or blue on each house to signify that the house has been checked (Registrada) (More here)
And the worry is why Maduro has decided to create this artificial crisis at this time. It is obvious that he is doing it for electoral purposes, Chávez did it in his time. But how far is he willing to take the conflict with his former new best friend Santos?
And even more worrisome, if Maduro is willing to do this 100 days before the parliamentary election, does he have a plan to extend this State of emergency as he wishes in order to gain popularity or limit the ability of the opposition to mobilize?
The Government’s popularity is down, they can probably limit the number of Deputies of the opposition to a simple majority, but with inflation accelerating, Maduro may be ready to step over the line if his popularity falls further. Chávez used to say that it was only in the Fourth Republic that rights were suspended, but here is his anointed successor doing precisely that, a clear sign that all bets are off going forward.
Meanwhile the opposition is incredibly quiet, as if Tachira was a far away place, rather than an opposition stronghold. Why aren’t opposition leaders present in Tachira provoking the Government or helping to protect Venezuelans and Colombians and Colombian/Venezuelans whose rights are being abused? Is the MUD going to limit itself to issuing bland statements that no media broadcasts? Is anybody going to question what it is that provoked the State of Emergency which state media justifies rather easily as paramilitary attacks on Venezuela’s Armed Forces?
I have no answers for the MUD’s passivity. This is a golden opportunity to show the country and the world the fascism and abuses of the Maduro Government. If nothing is done to slow down the Government in its attempt to escalate the conflict with Colombia, the Maduro administration may create a conflict that would give it an excuse to postpone the election if they deem it necessary.
And as usual its equally undemocratic friends around Latin America will blame the opposition and/or Colombia for it.