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Venezuela Chronicles: The Latest News

By George Cleary


UPDATED DEC. 23, 2019

“Hello, Steve and Jean. Glad to hear from you, and glad to be in contact. Your information is perfectly correct. The US campaign to produce changes in other countries by siege tactics really doesn’t work – either here or anywhere else. And it isn’t so much that Maduro is on the upswing, but rather the opposition to him is on the downswing. All these petty, petulant, jealous little “leaders” spend all their time, effort and money fighting among themselves and getting nothing done, and the public (and the military) is tired of paying any attention to them. Many of Maduro’s group may be corrupt and immersed in narco-businesses, but at least they are organized and carrying out a coherent plan, and so offer some hope. What does the U.S. offer? A blockade – wow! That’s great, isn’t it? Our greatest problem at the moment is the shortage of gasoline, which is very severe, but at least the government in the last two months has managed to revert the declining oil production, and found ways to get avaricious capitalists who have boats to ship it elsewhere to sell. But the refineries are in shambles, and the shortage is likely to get worse. Yesterday we (and 7 million other people) got this month’s CLAP boxes: $18 of food for $1 (all of it imported). We (with salaries of $1/day) appreciate that! Spread the word. George.”

Ejido, October 4, 2019

My dear friends in the U.S.,

Your interest in the Venezuelan crisis is most comforting. What most depresses us is the lack of interest and understanding of our situation among people in other countries. MOST people my son in Indianapolis meets think Venezuela is in Asia.

Since the letter I sent to John Marlin on the 22nd past, there have been some new developments, which merit commentary.

1. The electricity shortages have worsened on a national level. Some states, Zulia, most notably (the most populated state, and the site of all the oil), have been reduced by the rationing to practical paralysis. Of course, in the center of Caracas, where Maduro and his representatives are, there’s plenty. They never feel it. So much for “greater pressure.”

2. A few small opposition parties have launched a new effort, called something like the National Negotiation Table, in which they rather quickly reached an “agreement” with the Maduro government, calling for the reincorporation of the socialist deputies to the National Assembly, and a reorganization of a new Supreme Electoral Council. This brings to mind several points. It is a further show of the disorganization of the opposition parties, because none of the principal ones (Accion Democrática, COPEI, Primera Justicia, Un Nuevo Tiempo, etc.) participated. It also shows the coherence of the regimen’s activities because they provoked a notable division in the opposition (with the major part still supporting Guaidó) at no cost to them. But it also shows that Guaidó’s call for all negotiation to start with an end to the “usurpation” (i.e., Maduro’s resignation or removal) is increasingly unattractive because of its apparent impossibility. As to the points of the agreement, the socialist deputies had withdrawn from the National Assembly (controlled by the opposition) due to their being unable to influence anything there, and being needed by the regimen to staff the Constituyent Assembly, which they controlled. Their return would seem to lend certain legitimacy to the National Assembly in the eyes of the Maduro government, which considers its acts to be illegal for “desacato” (disrespect) to the Supreme Court’s order about some deputies (which I won’t go into), but it also permits them to plant difficulties like proposing an investigation into the ties of oppositions leaders to the paramilitary forces in Colombia.

Ed. Note: George’s earlier feature on Venezuela for our website was in August of 2018, and you can read it here.