Venezuela’s opposition is on the verge of collapse – By Marco Aponte-Moreno

Venezuela’s opposition is on the verge of collapse – By Marco Aponte-Moreno

It’s been a bittersweet couple of weeks for the Venezuelan opposition, which for six months this year staged daily protests against the authoritarian-leaning regime of president Nicolás Maduro.

On Oct. 26, the alliance – which began working together in 2008 to counterbalance Hugo Chávez’s “Chavista” regime – was given the Sakharov Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious human rights awards.

“Today we are supporting a nation’s freedom to struggle,” said Antonio Tajani, president of European Parliament, in bestowing the honor upon the more than two dozen parties that comprise Venezuela’s Democratic Unity Roundtable.

However, the award came just after the opposition had been handed a stunning defeat in Venezuela’s Oct. 15 regional elections. Despite a 75 percent approval rating, its candidates won just five of 23 state governorships.    READ MORE

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  • Clyde Duncan  On 11/11/2017 at 4:02 pm

    CRISIS: Suffering through Inflation

    Gaby J. Miller | Caracas Chronicles

    “When I was little, we were poor. My mom was a secretary and, on weekends, she sold coffee. She was a single mother of five children. We never had toys. I remember I’d cut out all the models in the magazines and they were my paper dolls. But, even when things were really bad, we always had food on the table. Now I work, my daughter and her husband work, and we can barely feed the three children in the house.”

    In Venezuela, there’s no way to keep track of prices. Food and medicine can double up the price in a blink. Salaries are never enough for basic needs against a voracious inflation.

    Rosa is 73 years old, but still works as a housekeeper with no prospects of retiring. Waiting at the drugstore, she needs medicines for her grandchild.

    “She’s the baby of the house. She’ll be one year old in January, but she has been through a lot, born a little sick,” she says with tears in her eyes. Her daughter is a schoolteacher but spends most of the time taking care of her daughter. “It doesn’t matter how much we work, money is never enough. I’m not talking about luxuries, I mean the ‘oldest’ of the house only eats once a day, trying to save more for the children.”

    “We have the medicine” the drugstore manager says. “Three left, Bs.180,000 [Bolívar] each.”

    “I don’t have enough” Rosa says, leaving in a rush.

    In some houses, like Mikaela’s, a 63-year old, the drama worsens by the minute and a good meal is a privilege.

    Months ago, with Bs.100,000 you could buy enough food for a month. Now? That’s not even enough for a week. It’s a tragedy you can see in numbers.

    “We don’t eat meat, just beans and vegetables. I miss a good arepa con jamón or a hot cafe con leche. I can’t buy ham or eggs. I have six children, all grown up, two live with me, and it breaks my heart that they have to go to bed with an empty stomach sometimes. We do the best we can, we have CLAP bags and some help from my oldest daughter, but if prices rise by Bs.5,000 or Bs.10,000 each week, that’s abusive. We can’t keep up.”

    The future doesn’t look encouraging. With recent measures announced by Nicolás Maduro, a higher inflation (and default) is almost guaranteed. And the consequences are hitting the younger too.

    For Luis, a 19-year-old student, the crisis is measured in sizes: “I’m like three sizes thinner, my mom’s around five. She tries to eat less, saying it’s more important that my brother and I eat.” He remembers that, when he was at school, his family was middle class. “You know, vacations now and then, video game consoles, new shoes at the beginning of the school year.”

    He sighs.

    “All my money goes to medicines” says Alberto, a former PDVSA worker. “One for the heart was about Bs.10,000 at the beginning of the year, it’s now close to Bs. 200,000.”

    Bitter acceptance colors his face.

    “Soon I won’t be able to buy it.”

  • Clyde Duncan  On 11/11/2017 at 4:55 pm

    The Revolving Door of Normalized Oppression

    Emiliana Duarte | Caracas Chronicles

    Put yourself in the shoes of Freddy Guevara.

    You’re the elected Deputy Speaker of Venezuela’s Legislature. On Wednesday of this week, PSUV heavyweight Jorge Rodríguez publicly calls for your arrest before the National Electoral Council.

    Hours later, a Prosecutor General imposed by force by an illegitimate body that took over your mandate goes on television and says his office will formally petition the Supreme Tribunal to strip you of your parliamentary immunity. The books say only the National Assembly can do that. But nobody bothers with the books.

    Don’t just shrug it off. STOP.


    Later the same day, President Maduro, in a nationwide (cadena) broadcast, says he “fully supports the Prosecutor’s initiative” to go after you, and that you are guilty of “burning down the country” & “destroying the nation’s electoral system.”

    And there you are, watching this on TV, helplessly, knowing there’s nothing you can do. – NOTHING.

    We’ve gotten so acclimated to injustice, we don’t even stop to grasp how fucked up all of this is.

    The next day, the Supreme Tribunal announces it will begin proceedings to strip your parliamentary immunity. Your lawyers are never notified of any filing by the Prosecutor; there isn’t even a pretense of due process.

    On Friday, after you read on Twitter that Supreme Tribunal proceedings have finished and a ruling has been handed down, your lawyers scramble to Court only to find out that there wasn’t even a hearing, be denied access to your file, and to the crimes that you are being charged with.

    You have no say in any of this. – NO SAY WHATSOEVER.

    Eventually, you learn — via a webpage — that you have been stripped of your parliamentary immunity, barred from traveling outside the country, and are to stand trial for “continued instigation of violence, criminal association and the use of adolescents to commit crimes,” but that you have already been found guilty of said crimes, according to the Court ruling.

    AND THAT IS IT. There is no charade anymore. The dictatorship doesn’t need to pretend. It’s you, against the entire repressive apparatus of a narco communist tyranny.

    We’re all inured to this stuff, right?

    On Saturday morning, as all this was happening, the regime released Yon Goicoechea from arbitrary detention at SEBIN’s HQ in El Helicoide, after taking away 15 months of his life that he will never get back. Just like that.

    FOR NO SPECIFIC REASON. It’s not as though there had been any judicial decision to change things yesterday:

    The state hadn’t even pretended to have an official case open against Yon for over a year.

    We were all happy for Yon, of course — how could we not be? — but even in freeing him the chavista state revels in displaying its arbitrary power. They don’t release him for a reason. They release him, just because. Scratch that, JUST BECAUSE THEY WANT TO.

    Yon is not really free. You know that, right?

    We’ve decided this is all normal. Because in Venezuela, words like “rights,” and “liberties,” long ago lost any semblance of meaning. We’ve learned to coexist with injustice, we’ve factored oppression into our daily lives, to the point where summoning the strength to be outraged by indignity is now considered an OVERREACTION.

    So before you start pontificating all [surprised to hear dat?!] “Y todavía te sorprendes, mija?”, let all this sink in. Be glad that you’re not Freddy Guevara or Yon Goicoechea. Relish in the luxury you have of laughing about how ludicrous it is to point out due process violations in Venezuela.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 11/11/2017 at 5:11 pm

    More from Caracas Chronicles:

    Having shared the part about FOOD and INJUSTICES in Venezuela. A logical deduction from all this is people are not interested in fighting injustices because they are pre-occupied with FOOD ….. here is another copy to post:

    Having said that, what a week. While inflation is like a helium balloon with a hangman’s noose pulling Venezuelans by the neck to the stratosphere, it may be the least of our problems.

    We finally came to the point where we can finally say “D” day is here. Although it was not without comedy, the arrival of default is more than a nightmare for bondholders. It’s pretty much an extinction event. Oh, and “dialogue” also starts with a “D.”

    To make things worse, after last week’s empanada incident, Villeguitas was fired and Jorge Rodríguez (a cacri mixture of Goebbels and Mengele) was appointed Minister of Information. A few days later, the illegal constituent assembly chaired by his sister (Delcy), issued an illegal instrument (NOT A LAW) they call Law Against Hate which includes penalties and sanctions for those who post hateful messages in social media.

    It will be useful in the days to come.

    Raúl Stolk

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