Tag Archives: Venezuela

In Its Fight with Venezuela, the Trump Administration Takes Aim at Cuba

Amid the barrage of breaking news in the ongoing Trump scandals, one overlooked story is that of Cuba, which is experiencing severe fuel shortages and other difficulties, owing to sanctions levied by the Trump Administration. On September 28th, Sarah Marsh, a Reuters correspondent in Cuba, uploaded a video to Twitter. The thirty-second clip, shot on her phone from a moving car, shows vehicles stalled on a roadway: trucks, buses, modern taxis, and vintage nineteen-fifties Chevys and Studebakers in a line that appears to be half a mile long. All of them were waiting for gas. Marsh tweeted, “So I thought the fuel situation in #Cuba had improved somewhat, until I passed this multi-hr queue for diesel on the highway. This is only a fragment of what I filmed.”

Cuba’s energy shortage has begun to affect life on the island in a wide variety of ways. A week before Marsh posted the video, she reported that the government had urged its citizens to save fuel during daylight hours, warning that its supply was inadequate to cover the island’s needs for the month. Air-conditioning had been shut off in public buildings, while schools and universities had cut back on school hours, and some public-sector workers were told to stay home, because of a lack of fuel for public transportation. Oxen were replacing tractors in agricultural fields; wood was being used to to fire ovens in state-run bakeries, and a number of factories had either cut back on production or shut down altogether.

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Posted by on October 10, 2019 in Reportages, South America


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Venezuela’s Two Presidents Collide 

There are a few rules for how to topple a government. Make sure that you have

the military on your side, or at least enough of it to dissuade
unsympathetic soldiers from intervening. Spread money around, to inspire
loyalty. Determine which part of the populace will join your uprising,
which part will resist, and which part will stand aside and watch.
Neutralize the resistance quickly; take over the media so that you can
disseminate orders. Once the ruler is displaced, kill him or hustle him
out of the country as fast as you can.

When Juan Guaidó, the
leader of Venezuela’s uprising, announced the “final phase of Operation
Freedom,” on April 30th, he seemed to have done none of those things. He
arrived before dawn outside the La Carlota airbase, in Caracas, and
recorded a video declaring that the time had come to force out the
country’s increasingly tyrannical ruler, Nicolás Maduro.
Guaidó, thirty-five years old, had recently been named the speaker of
the National Assembly, and he looked a bit surprised to find himself
where he was. With a few dozen military sympathizers at his side, he
said, “There have been years of sacrifice. There have been years of
persecution. There have been years of fear, even. Today, that fear is

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Posted by on August 3, 2019 in South America



Los venezolanos estamos condenados a negociar

Los venezolanos creemos que la improvisación es un método. Tal vez eso pueda explicar lo inexplicable: la fallida rebelión contra un Estado fallido que se produjo el 30 de abril. A medida que pasan las horas, cada vez parece más difícil conocer realmente qué ocurrió. La ausencia de información y la falta de credibilidad en los diferentes actores implicados dejan al ciudadano común sin posibilidades de acercarse a la verdad. Más que datos ciertos, solo abundan las especulaciones. Como si, más que analizar la realidad, solo fuera posible imaginarla.

Quizás nunca se llegue a saber ciertamente ni qué pasó ni qué podría haber pasado esta semana con las fuerzas armadas en Venezuela. Esta opacidad, sin duda, es otro síntoma del enorme deterioro institucional del país. Pero lo ocurrido también demuestra, nuevamente, que ese vacío institucional no puede llenarse con violencia. Es otro recordatorio de que la democracia no se legitima con fusiles sino con votos.

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Posted by on May 13, 2019 in South America



The plot that failed: how Venezuela’s ‘uprising’ fizzled

The video that appeared on Tuesday morning had the appearance of history in the making. In the purple light of dawn, it showed a group of armed men and a military vehicle on a road leading to La Carlota airbase in eastern Caracas.

In the foreground, stood Juan Guaidó – the head of the national assembly recognised by most western countries as the rightful leader of Venezuela – declaring the “final phase of Operation Freedom” with oratory seemingly destined for legend.

“Today, brave soldiers, brave patriots, brave men loyal to the constitution have heard our call. We have finally met on the streets of Venezuela,” Guaidó said.

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Posted by on May 13, 2019 in South America



An Unflinching View of Venezuela in Crisis

Alejandro Cegarra’s photo series “State of Decay” is an unflinching portrait of Venezuela’s collapse. How this country went from being one of Latin America’s richest societies to one of its poorest is a disaster of bewildering proportions, one that defies easy explanation. Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world, but since the 2014 crash in world oil prices, on which Venezuela depended for more than ninety per cent of its export revenues, its economy has contracted continuously, unleashing an economic crisis worse than that experienced by Americans during the Great Depression. In the past five years, three million of Venezuela’s thirty-two million people have fled the country. More than half of all Venezuelans lack enough food to meet their daily needs. The country’s hospital system has all but failed; countless Venezuelans have died owing to a lack of medical attention and the scarcity of medicines for treatable illnesses. Hyperinflation is expected to reach ten million per cent this year. On top of everything else, Venezuela’s murder rate is among the world’s highest, making it one of the most dangerous countries in the world to live in.

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Posted by on March 5, 2019 in South America



With Aid Blocked at Border, What’s Next Move for Venezuela’s Opposition?

As the humanitarian aid at the heart of a Venezuelan border standoff remained shut in warehouses on Sunday, and with President Nicolás Maduro’s blockade still intact, it became clear that the opposition leaders trying to oust him had little in the way of a Plan B.

Juan Guaidó, the top opposition official, and his allies had hoped that forcing the badly needed food and medicine inside Venezuela would represent a moment of irreversible collapse in Mr. Maduro’s authority. Instead, just one aid truck made it through on Saturday, the deadline set by the opposition to end the impasse, and Mr. Maduro easily fended off the biggest challenge to his power since Mr. Guaidó swore himself in as the country’s rightful leader last month.

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Posted by on March 4, 2019 in South America



The War on Venezuela is built on lies

Travelling with Hugo Chavez, I soon understood the threat of Venezuela. At a farming co-operative in Lara state, people waited patiently and with good humour in the heat. Jugs of water and melon juice were passed around. A guitar was played; a woman, Katarina, stood and sang with a husky contralto.

“What did her words say?” I asked.

“That we are proud,” was the reply.

The applause for her merged with the arrival of Chavez. Under one arm he carried a satchel bursting with books. He wore his big red shirt and greeted people by name, stopping to listen. What struck me was his capacity to listen.

But now he read. For almost two hours he read into the microphone from the stack of books beside him: Orwell, Dickens, Tolstoy, Zola, Hemingway, Chomsky, Neruda: a page here, a line or two there. People clapped and whistled as he moved from author to author.

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Posted by on February 28, 2019 in South America



In Venezuela, Vladimir Putin fights for his own future

ONE MORNING in September 2009, a gaggle of powerful Kremlin figures lined up at the residence of Dmitry Medvedev, then Russia’s president, to greet a dear guest: Hugo Chávez, president of Venezuela. “I’ve missed you,” Mr Medvedev told the Comandante, using the familiar Russian form, ty. “You are a friend and comrade to me, Dmitry,” Chávez responded, passing on greetings from “mutual friends” including Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad. “Russia is a superpower again,” he continued, “and Venezuela is a nucleus of the pole of power in Latin America.”

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Posted by on February 16, 2019 in Europe, South America


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Will Venezuela oil sanctions be the silver bullet to fell Maduro regime?

Outside a service station in eastern Caracas, the queue for fuel stretches for blocks. Drivers know that the US has leveled sanctions on Venezuela’s state-run oil company – and they worry that the pumps will soon run dry.

“Everything is going to get worse,” said Tomás Pacheco, who was waiting to fill his car. “And these long lines are the new normal for us.”

The sanctions, which came in on Monday, ban US companies from exporting goods or services to Petroleum of Venezuela (PDVSA), as part of a campaign to force Maduro to step aside and cede power to Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader. US refineries are also banned from buying crude from PDVSA unless the money is paid into accounts not tied to Maduro.

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Posted by on February 13, 2019 in South America



We’ve seen the west’s approach to Venezuela before – in Syria, Egypt, Afghanistan, need I go on?

The closest I ever came to Venezuela, many years ago, was a transit connection at Caracas airport. I noticed a lot of soldiers in red berets and a clutch of goons, and it reminded me, vaguely, of the Middle East.

Now, sitting in the rain squalls of the wintry Levant, I flick through my newspaper clippings of our recent local autocrats – Saddam, Assad, al-Sisi, Erdogan, Mohammed bin Salman (you can fill in the rest for yourself) – and I think of Nicolas Maduro.

The comparisons are by no means precise. Indeed, it’s not the nature of the “strongmen” I’m thinking about. It’s our reaction to all these chaps. And there are two obvious parallels: the way in which we sanction and isolate the hated dictator – or love him, as the case may be – and the manner in which we not only name the opposition as the rightful heir to the nation, but demand that democracy be delivered to the people whose torture and struggle for freedom we have suddenly discovered.

And before I forget it, there’s one other common thread in this story. If you suggest that those who want presidential change in Venezuela may be a little too hasty, and our support for – let us say – Juan Guaido might be a bit premature if we don’t want to start a civil war, this means you are “pro-Maduro”.

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Posted by on February 8, 2019 in South America