Tag Archives: struggle

Is Venezuela finally waking up? Here is a review

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One goes to Caracas and picks up so many stories, that when you return you don’t know where to start. But I thought I would lead up with the story of the students in front of the United Nations office in Caracas. In some sense it encompasses a number of stories of what is going on in Caracas in the protest movement an its relationship with the Maduro Government.

Essentially, a bunch of students (or not) have set up camp in front of the United Nations office which is in Avenida Francisco de Miranda in Los Palos Grandes. I may not like the #SOSVenezuela hashtag, but, as you can see in the picture above, they have focused on what the hell is the UN doing, or not, in Venezuela. But their reality, their plan is a bit more complicated than that.

The first day, the students set up maybe a couple of rows of tents. But, as you can see in the picture above, by now they are up to four rows and growing.

It is very colorful as the picture below shows, but this is more than just a spur of the moment plan.

When you first talk to them,there are a number of surprises. First, they are not all from Caracas. Second, they are not middle class. Finally, they are not all students, as many of them are part of radical, left wing groups 8yes!, real left wing not imitation Chavistas!) which oppose the Government. So, for fools that claim that these protests are somehow motivated by the US, driven my middle class students, please come down and talk to them. You will be surprised, really surprised.

The second interesting aspect, is that the UN is just a way of focusing on something. They know that the UN will do not much more than make a statement or two. But they also know, that where they are, they should be safe, they are close to Altamira where they can go protest every night and in a location where the protests can grow, as they have grown in the last week.

But more importantly, they think that Maduro is playing a game of patience. They believe Maduro wants the students to get tired, wear out the opposition with repression and nightly fights, which, much like in 2002 in Plaza Altamira, will lead to the students or the opposition getting tired and giving up.

But they have no plans of giving up.

Their plan is to grow the camp, as long as it is livable. To make their presence a nuisance, but one that gets the approval of the neighbors. But it has to be livable and sustainable. They have received donations, they have a couple of Porta Toilets, they cook for everyone, they organize protests. But more importantly, they rotate. The tents may have someone’s name on it, or State, but the truth is that they alternate. Each person has someone to occupy their place. The idea is to outlast the Government, to out-tire the National Guard or the Bolivarian Police. After all, nobody can say they are violent (even if they go help in Altamira) but if the Government were to decide to move them out, repress them, it would be the Government that would look bad.
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Venezuelan chronicles: a struggling country

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In the early-morning hours of Saturday, March 9, three days before I received the extortion call, two friends — a British man and a Venezuelan woman — were attacked in the street close to my building by a group of six young thugs. The man was able to fend off three of them, but they got away with the woman’s wallet and smartphone, reducing her to tears. Sadly, this has become an all-too-common occurrence in the city.

For now, I have decided that I can no longer live in Venezuela, one of the world’s most dangerous countries. According to the Venezuelan Violence Observatory, a nongovernmental organization, there were 24,763 murders last year, or 79 for every 100,000 inhabitants. The situation has deteriorated so much that the government stopped publishing official figures a couple of years ago.

The government has run the economy into the ground despite the fact that the nation sits atop the planet’s largest oil reserves. Inflation is running at 56 percent. The government budget deficit is more than 10 percent of gross domestic product.

Shortages of basic products such as toilet paper, infant formula, diapers and hand soap are rife. People use napkins instead of toilet paper, even though that is prohibitively expensive for most Venezuelans. Otherwise, they go without, and shower regularly.

Last week I spent a morning going to seven stores just to find shampoo. People line up for two or three blocks just to obtain the ingredients to make their beloved arepa, a flatbread made of ground maize dough or cooked flour. In Mercals, communal grocery stores subsidized by the government, food prices are extremely cheap but the lines are such that people have to spend a whole morning queuing to get the produce.

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List of fatalities as protests go in Venezuela

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This list has been compiled using reports from Venezuelan authorities and media. It includes all deaths which have been reportedly connected with the protests, riots, and street barricades. However it does not include several cases which have been included on other lists, due to the possibility that these deaths were not related to the political violence but were in fact the result of other criminal violence. It also differs slightly from the count held by Venezuelan authorities, which does not appear to include the two cases mentioned below of deaths caused by barricades delaying patients in a critical condition from reaching hospital.

It is important to highlight that both this and all other counts are made using the available information and the judgment of the authors. New information produced as investigations proceed may change which cases count as being connected to the political violence, and who the perpetrator of each murder is considered to be. Observers are welcome to send in information to VA.com on cases that may have been missed, or information that suggests that cases which have been excluded from the current list should be included.

The list is as follows:

1,2 & 3: On 12 February, an opposition activist, José Roberto Redman (21), a pro-opposition carpenter, Bassil DaCosta (23), and a Chavista social activist, Juan Montoya (40) were killed during clashes in Caracas.
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Can armed humanitarian intervention ever be justified?

Since its beginnings armed humanitarian intervention has represented a dilemma to war, peace and international ethics because it involves the moral issue of when to intervene and if these interventions are justifiable.  Moreover there are the different theories in favour and against of armed intervention. This essay will discuss:  Can armed humanitarian intervention ever be justified?

In order to make this essay clearer is to believe that a couple of definitions should be made beforehand; humanitarian intervention and armed intervention. Firstly, ‘humanitarian intervention is traditionally defined as the use of force by states to protect human rights. This definition presumes that states should do the intervening in order to maintain civil rights and of course the welfare and peace in society’.[1]Nowadays, it is sometimes argued that this traditional definition is obsolete because humanitarian intervention is increasingly a matter of collective action under UN auspices, not action undertaken by states acting on their own authority and under their own law. Secondly, we speak of armed intervention when that exercise involves the use of military force. An armed intervention is humanitarian when its aim is to protect innocent people who are not nationals of the intervening state from violence perpetrated or permitted by the government of the target state.[2] Additionally, armed intervention to stop a massacre is likely to be only the first of many measures needed to restore order to a chaotic society and prevent subsequent massacres. If prevention is important, then is to believe that the challenge for humanitarian policy is to move from responding to humanitarian crises to forestalling them.

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Can democracy ever be ‘fully’ consolidated?

In democratic theories there is the debate whether democracy can be fully consolidated or not. There is the common argument that consolidation is possible in every democratic regime, but a ‘fully consolidation’ seems to be more unlikely.  This essay will discuss: Can democracy ever be ‘fully consolidated’?

In the last decades ‘democracy has been widely recognized as the best political regime yet invented, because its citizens are both treated with respect, dignity and have some say in political decision-making’.[1] In this sense, democracy can be consolidated, but not completely. To understand this: consolidation is seen as a scale; because of multiple different factors that are used to work out whether a democracy is consolidated or not. Therefore, it would be wrong to see democratic consolidation as a dichotomy. For example; if two democracies (A,B) were equal in almost every way sharing similar political institutions, ethnic divisions, size, region, political culture; it would be absurd to classify A as a consolidated democracy and B not just because A has more equality of wealth.  Instead a better classification would be to say that A is more consolidated than B. The bottom-line here is that, democratic consolidation is best understood as a scale; this means that for a country to be ‘fully consolidated’ it must be at the very top of the consolidation scale. Moreover, for a country to be consolidated it would have to be on balance more likely to it to remain a democracy than to revert back to a non-democracy. In this case; it could be argued that for such a state to exist is almost impossible as for it to do so all the possibly relevant factors would have to be a factor strengthening democracy or at least not weakening it. To a national level, even in Britain for example, the lack of a codified constitution, the rise of BNP and declining turnout can all be pointed to as factors which make Britain’s democracy not fully consolidated because under the right conditions they could make the UK slide into authoritarianism.  Although this is not likely the existence of these weaknesses in Britain’s democracy still mean that the UK can’t be called a fully consolidated democracy.

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