A complex and tangled relationship always existed between Venezuela and its military.
On July 11, 2016, the entanglement got more convoluted. In a move never seen before, Maduro declared he was placing the country’s ministries under the control of the security minister, Vladimir Padrino Lopez. He established Lopez in a “superminister” post, leaving some investigators to say the move is like leading a soft military coup. Congressional Speaker Henry Ramos Allup censured Maduro for attacking the nation’s Constitution by using the military for partisan purposes.
The next day, July 12, Venezuela’s military seized operations in five, high-capacity, port centers to secure commercial activity as Venezuela’s economy falters.
While Maduro faces opposition, he’s in danger of losing the support of his own party. Chavistas, worried the president is destroying the endowment of Chavez, have come out in support of a recall referendum.
In the meantime, some Venezuelans fight to keep the dream alive.
What those unaware people haven’t discerned is ―
The Dream is Dead
Chavez’s dream is dead; his fans just resist leaving the stage.
Venezuela, with nosediving oil prices and skyrocketing food prices― when food is available ― is weaving like a drunken seaman approaching the verge of upheaval. The so-called “pink-tide” is melting like the Wicked Witch, and centrists see movement across South America from Argentina to Brazil to Peru.
Even though the misery is rising for Venezuelans 30 million residents, the government looks ― for the moment ― secure. It may be smoke and mirrors. Maduro has factions to be balanced, and he still must maintain the dream of power.
Maduro’s dictatorship isn’t one like Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. However, the boundaries of transparency remain hazy and people who benefited from the revolution which placed Chavez continue to firmly hold their power. Meanwhile, the opposition flails, unable to restore the ruling status enjoyed before losing the brass ring at the close of the 20th century.
The harsh reality is not negated. Hunger is chewing away at the country despite having the world’s largest certified petroleum reserves. In the 1970s, Venezuela was one of the planet’s 20 richest countries.
Now inflation is in the high triple digits; It’s largest paper currency is worth ten-cents, requiring brick thick packets of bills for the simplest of transactions.
Inhabitants have to stand in line all day to buy corn flour. Kidnappers thrive. Wealthier Venezuelans leave their jewelry home and hide behind tinted windows when they go for a drive.
The opposition remains splintered and disorganized.
Life in Venezuela is getting harder. There’s little reason to expect a change anytime soon.
For Latin America, The Dream Died, But the Nightmare Continues
Even if the dream hadn’t died with Chavez, it could end up being a roller coaster for Venezuela.
Before dying in 2013, Chavez blamed America for Venezuela’s problems. When Maduro took office, he picked up the chant.
There may be some accuracy in their allegations
Throughout the 20th century, US politicians have used Latin America as their personal chessboard.
American-backed dictators replaced democratically elected leaders as America exercised its growing strength.
Beginning with the war Spanish War in 1898, as America forcibly maintained a large number of troops in Cuba, the USA routinely meddled with Latin American nations and its often loony leaders.
For most of the first half of the 20th century, America was clear about its purposes when it intruded in Latin America ― it wanted to protect American interests.
The next fifty years, America began to hide behind a veneer of altruism. As anti-communist sentiments swept the nation, American politicians watched as an opportunity arose. The “threat” could be utilized as a viable excuse to flex American muscles.
To spread “truth, justice, and the American way,” Banana Republics started falling ― with American politicians, troops, and munitions pushing.
Operation Condor was one such Latin American program, backed by the USA, to squelch Communism.
Tens of thousands died as US-backed military juntas took control of some of the continent’s nations.
In Argentina, as the military junta slaughtered 30,000 individuals, America’s Henry Kissinger told the dictators, “Do what you must. But do it quickly.”
Political leaders in America, comprehending the tactics were not the way to win friends and influence people, put on a poncho of State Farm’s “good neighbor” policy.
Today, many observers think that America programs, like USAID, are merely more efforts by America to exert its power, albeit behind humanitarian masks.
Those observers may be right and Venezuela could be the next victim of American “assistance.”
Jerry Nelson is an American expat living in South America. A freelance writer and ghostwriter, his work is seen globally on a regular basis. Email him at email@example.com and join the million-or-so who follow him on Twitter @ Journey_America