Sources

Venezuela, Where Leftist Revolution Is The People's Enemy

As Venezuela's leftist regime further tramples its own laws and social-democratic ideals, protesters are reminding us what a popular uprising looks like.

Anti-Maduro protesters in Caracas on Wednesday
Anti-Maduro protesters in Caracas on Wednesday
César Rodríguez Garavito

-Analysis-

The last day of May marked two months of uninterrupted protests by Venezuelans against the government of President Nicolás Maduro. The tally of these two months of confrontation shows the state's deplorably disproportionate response to these demonstrations: one death a day, 2,977 arrests, 355 civilians illegally hauled before military tribunals, and more shameful numbers.

But beyond the statistics, tear gas and outrageous images of injured protesters, one can see the deeper significance of these protests. As the Venezuelan civil rights NGO Provea observes, this is the country's first popular rebellion of the 21st century. It is also one of the most intense, prolonged and innovative mass actions of our age, comparable to the wave of anti-systemic protests in some European countries and the Arab Spring revolts.

The vast majority of marchers have not been professional politicians from opposition parties, as claimed by the government and its partisans. They are young people backed by their parents and grandparents, native shamans, street musicians and ordinary members of the public exasperated by the dearth of basic goods and household products, and stifled by a regime that is closing the most elemental channels of democratic participation, such as the regional elections Maduro ordered postponed indefinitely last October.

But as the discontent is particularly marked by the millennial generation, its principal media mouthpieces are digital: with marches coordinated through Whatsapp, memes going viral on Facebook, and real-time reporting of protesters being arrested on Twitter.

Maduro has confirmed the demise of democracy

There is a sad irony perhaps that the most formidable challenge to the Bolivarian revolution should come from a 21st-century rebellion. Because the initial promise made by "21st-Century Socialism," as its founder the late president Hugo Chávez called it, was to deepen democracy and include the same sectors as those protesting on the streets today. It was the promise of the 1999 constitution, which Chávez managed to impose at the cost of a coup attempt against him.

But long before his death, Chávez had opted to favor social inclusion at the expense of democracy and political inclusion. Maduro has confirmed the demise of that democratic promise, with his current cocktail of social and political exclusion enforced through the militarization of the Venezuelan state. It is a policy we can see manifest in the Defense Ministry's involvement in boosting food production (Plan Zamora) and the perpetuation of the state of emergency.

Provea, for its part, concluded when the October polls were suspended that Venezuela had entered a state of dictatorship: a 21st-century dictatorship, maintaining the minimal forms of the rule of law (parliament, judiciary etc.. ) but fully controlled by the executive branch and armed forces.

The past two months confirm such a conclusion: as protesters take their claims to the streets, the Government pursues its plans to dismantle the Bolivarian Constitution of 1999 through procedures that are themselves a violation of that text.

Today it is these rebels of the 21st century left to defend democracy and human rights against the self-proclaimed heirs of 21st-Century Socialism who have made their choice clear.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Geopolitics

"The Truest Hypocrisy" - The Russia-NATO Clash Seen From Moscow

Russia has decided to cut off relations with the Western military alliance. But Moscow says it was NATO who really wanted the break based on its own internal rationale.

NATO chief Stoltenberg and Russian Foregin Minister Lavrov

Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS via ZUMA
Pavel Tarasenko and Sergei Strokan

MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry's announcement that the country's permanent representation to NATO would be shut down for an indefinite period is a major development. But from Moscow's viewpoint, there was little alternative.

These measures were taken in response to the decision of NATO on Oct. 6 to cut the number of personnel allowed in the Russian mission to the Western alliance by half. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the removal of accreditations was from eight employees of the Russian mission to NATO who were identified as undeclared employees of Russian intelligence." We have seen an increase in Russian malicious activity for some time now," Stoltenberg said.


The Russian Foreign Ministry called NATO's expulsion of Russian personnel a "ridiculous stunt," and Stoltenberg's words "the truest hypocrisy."

In announcing the complete shutdown in diplomacy between Moscow and NATO, the Russian Foreign Ministry added: "The 'Russian threat' is being hyped in strengthen the alliance's internal unity and create the appearance of its 'relevance' in modern geopolitical conditions."

The number of Russian diplomatic missions in Brussels has been reduced twice unilaterally by NATO in 2015 and 2018 - after the alliance's decision of April 1, 2014 to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between Russia and NATO in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea. Diplomats' access to the alliance headquarters and communications with its international secretariat was restricted, military contacts have frozen.

Yet the new closure of all diplomatic contacts is a perilous new low. Kommersant sources said that the changes will affect the military liaison mission of the North Atlantic alliance in Moscow, aimed at promoting the expansion of the dialogue between Russia and NATO. However, in recent years there has been no de facto cooperation. And now, as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced, the activities of the military liaison mission will be suspended. The accreditation of its personnel will be canceled on November 1.

NATO told RIA Novosti news service on Monday that it regretted Moscow's move. Meanwhile, among Western countries, Germany was the first to respond. "It would complicate the already difficult situation in which we are now and prolong the "ice age," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters.

"Lavrov said on Monday, commenting on the present and future of relations between Moscow and the North Atlantic Alliance, "If this is the case, then we see no great need to continue pretending that any changes will be possible in the foreseeable future because NATO has already announced that such changes are impossible.

The suspension of activities of the Russian Permanent Mission to NATO, as well as the military liaison and information mission in Russia, means that Moscow and Brussels have decided to "draw a final line under the partnership relations of previous decades," explained Andrei Kortunov, director-general of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs, "These relations began to form in the 1990s, opening channels for cooperation between the sides … but they have continued to steadily deteriorate over recent years."

Kortunov believes the current rupture was promoted by Brussels. "A new strategy for NATO is being prepared, which will be adopted at the next summit of the alliance, and the previous partnership with Russia does not fit into its concept anymore."

The existence and expansion of NATO after the end of the Cold War was the main reason for the destruction of the whole complex of relations between Russia and the West. Today, Russia is paying particular attention to marking red lines related to the further steps of Ukraine's integration into NATO. Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov previously stated this, warning that in response to the alliance's activity in the Ukrainian direction, Moscow would take "active steps" to ensure its security.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS
MOST READ