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Ah, that "civil society" of the Venezuelan opposition...

zulia-oppo-brawl.jpg

Such class! Such manners! Such elegance and eloquence! Such incorruptible parliamentary decorum! Yes, this is the way Venezuela should be governed in the glorious future when it is finally free of that odious "21st Century Socialism", and these are just the people to get rid of that nasty-wasty dictator Chávez...

The elections for municipal-chamber directors in Lagunillas and Machiques, in the state of Zulia, became scenes of confrontation and fist-fighting between members of the parties Acción Democrática, Primero Justicia, COPEI and Un Nuevo Tiempo. All parties were members of the so-called Democratic Unity Committee, according to the Wednesday edition of the Diario VEA newspaper.

In Lagunillas, the brawl between members of Un Nuevo Tiempo and COPEI left 30 persons injured, and a tear-gas canister was launched by the firefighters of Ciudad Ojeda in order to force the evacuation of the building.

Two councillors of the COPEI party and the mayor, Eduin Pirela, of Acción Democrática, were injured in the fighting and were later taken to private clinics.

Similar things occurred in Machiques, where groups of Acción Democrática and Primero Justicia members squared off over a violation of internal regulations of debate, in which the AD members attempted to impose the nomination of one of their members.

These events took place amid calls for the fragmented Venezuelan opposition to maintain unity amongst themselves in order to win seats in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Translation mine.

Looks like they're totally onto a winning unity strategy there. Keep it up, oppos! I'm pullin' for ya. We're all in this together. Keep yer sticks on the ice...hahahahahahahahaha...

Comments

Y'know 'Bina, this story wouldn't leave me alone after I read it. I know that in Latin America tempers sometimes run hot on politics and dumb things get done (well, in North America, too for that matter), but this seemed to be an unusually widespread thing in Venezuela all of a sudden.

I know it sounds like a stretch, but I am not given to conspiracy theories as a general rule. It almost seems like a repeat of Hugo's earlier coup and the wingnut plotting in Evoland. All with a great deal of US assistance (read: Money and equipment). But on Steroids.

You don't suppose that someone (CIA) has promised them an invasion and regime change and the wingnuts are trying to kill each other to position themselves for grabbing as much power as they can (and money, of course)(US taxpayer Dollars, of course) during said regime change? The CIA has been the 'frontmen' for military adventures by the US since at least the late '50's. That's as early as I can personally remember such things, but it is well documented since the OSS and its morphing into the CIA.

Just a thought. A gruesome one, but a thought.

Well, it's definitely possible. I know that USAID funds a lot of oppo groups and parties. Usually under the guise of "democratic development". These guys have all gotten money from them, but I don't know if they're fighting about that. They won't get more money out of their bosses that way. A squabble certainly won't make Washington look good for funding these clowns, either. All of these four oppo parties put together wouldn't add up to a quarter of the general vote anyway.

And what with the electricity shortages (due to low reservoirs at electrical-generation stations, like the Guri Dam), there's been a lot of chatter in the lamestream media up here about how it's only a matter of time before the Ven. government collapses. Maybe the oppos hope so! The sense I get, though, from reading local media (and watching La Hojilla, always a good barometer of where Venezuela actually stands) is that average Venezuelans are taking the electrical cuts and rationing measures in stride, because they're aware of the fact that this is an El Niño year and there hasn't been enough rain to fill reservoirs. Other countries relying on hydro power, like Brazil and Ecuador, have also had power cuts for the same reason. Lula's still doing fine, as is Correa. That leaves the oppos out in the cold again--no collapse is imminent, because the 'Cito is holding steady at over 60% popularity, and he's not at all shy of explaining his actions on national TV.

So...these crazy oppos, fighting over who gets to rule a couple of towns in Zulia? I'd say it's like drunks brawling over an empty bottle for the last dregs of the plonk. When they have nothing concrete to offer, and are accustomed to corruption as a means to power, but a culture of anti-corruption is on the ascendant thanks to Chávez and the PSUV (and their citizen "patrols"), it's inevitable that the oppos (read: the old ruling parties or what's left of them) would fall to doing just what they do best--bullying, fighting and making asses of themselves.

I still wouldn't discount a coup attempt on another front--the military provocations I noted earlier are serious and a fact, as are those seven gringo bases in Colombia. But this was more of a town-hall brawl than a grapple for power on a national level. So far, the oppos have been utterly shut out of federal government, thanks to the discredit they heaped on themselves not only before Chávez, but during the coup of '02, as well. That thing reeked of AD and COPEI, as well as USAID, CIA, etc. It's no wonder Carmona's boys shut down the National Assembly...they knew they'd never get elected to power again.

And they won't this time, either.

It isn't only El Niño, though that's a big part of it. The water table at Guri went down further than what it is today in 2003, but the big difference of course is that Vzla's GDP is almost twice what it was in 2003, and despite steady growth in electricity generation since then, demand has grown faster, making the country much more vulnerable to things like El Niño.

Yep...computer literacy and increased cellphone use, among other things, would certainly play in to that...as would the low unemployment figures. Venezuela's official rate stands at 6%, much lower than the US's. Another reason, no doubt, as to why they're not panicking and screaming for Chavecito's head!

Ya know, one thing is that some of these things don't happen in high income countries, and since most reporters come from countries that have been HI-countries their entire lives (economies in HI-countries grow slower on average, for obvious reasons), but this happens in poorer countries all the time. I remember when I was growing up in India: India's economy was largely stagnant in the 60s-70s and then in the 80s it suddenly started to grow fast, 5%+ per annum and the first thing that happened after years of underinvestment were power shortages -- it took a while to fix, but it was slowly but steadily solved as things moved by ...

So I can never imagine govts. falling for things like these, though they are an obvious nuisance.

No, and especially not in Venezuela, where poverty was so much a fact of life for 40-odd years anyway. When Chávez was first elected, the people screaming loudest about how he'd failed to eradicate poverty were the oppos--the same who used to vote for the parties responsible for the growth of that problem in the first place!

What it would take to bring this government down is something I can't ever see happening--but which did happen during the Punto Fijo era--namely, dissidents being disappeared, tortured and killed. Maybe not on the level of Argentina or Chile, but it was still pretty bad. Google the name of Alberto Lovera sometime (if you haven't heard of him already)--he was a casualty of that lovely old pacted "democracy". His body was found washed up on a beach with manacles still around the ankles. And he wasn't the only leftist skeleton in the closet by a long shot.

That's why I laugh anyone who calls Chávez a "dictator" to scorn. No tortures, no disappearances, no state sponsored murders--unlike the "model democracy" that preceded him. Wow, what a dictator! I mean, holy crap!