Sunday, July 30, 2017

Maduros's debacle in Venezuela: How noncooperation triumphed over brute force and intimidation

The power of noncooperation on display in Venezuela today along with the failure of brute force.

Bolivarian National Guard firing at protesters in Venezuela
Today in Venezuela the power of noncooperation was on display. Despite threats of reprisals from the Maduro regime for those who did not go out to vote only 12.4% of Venezuelan voters took part in the sham election and 87.6% abstained from taking part in the sham election.What follows are impressions gathered over social media and does not pretend to be an exhaustive report of what took place in Venezuela today, but does provide some snapshots and insights into what happened.

Journalist Leonardo León captured the above moment this morning when two priests from Tovar faced off with armed government forces in what he described as an effort "to try to mediate to contain the repression." León also reported that there were serious injuries.

Snipers killing opposition members in Tachira, Venezuela (El Nacional)
In the opposition stronghold of Tachira reports have emerged of snipers of the Bolivarian National Guard members and paramilitary forces targeting and killing opposition members. Video emerged over twitter at 1:30pm of pro-regime snipers firing from a rooftop in Tachira.

At least four dead in less than 24 hours reports the publication El Nacional. Former student leader and now member of the National Assembly Juan Requesens posted over twitter images of paramilitary snipers photographed in Tachira and reported "They denounce presence of paramilitaries in Rubio, sector Fiqueros, the Blocks besieging our town Táchira."

In order to try and carry this out the Maduro regime has used a combination of intimidation and terror to intimidate Venezuelans to vote or fear that they will suffer reprisals beginning with the loss of employment. Opposition officials have had their offices and homes raided with some being arbitrarily detained and in other cases family members taken away.

Photographer Daniel Blanco in a series of tweets outlined some of the carnage and escalation in violence by Maduro's repressive apparatus. At 4:29pm Blanco tweeted: "Adrián Rodríguez (13) was assassinated in Capacho, Táchira. Army sniper shot him in the head from the roof of a school."  At 8:18pm he tweeted: "Ender Peña died (18), shot by bullet during protest in Táchira. Transferred to a polyclinic, he didn't survive the operation." A few minutes later at 8:36pm Blanco tweeted: "Conflict escalation is very obvious. Weeks ago military fired tear gas into the chest, now firing with rifles to the head." 

Génesis Carmona: Shot in the head by a sniper on February 18, 2014
Beginning in February of 2014 the phenomenon of young Venezuelans being shot in the head while peacefully protesting was first widely documented. On February 12, 2014 regime agents shot Bassil Alejandro Dacosta, age 24 in the head.  One of the young students who carried Bassil off  after he was shot was Robert Redman, age 28, who reported later that day over twitter: "Today I was hit with a rock in the back, a helmet in my nose. I swallowed tear-gas, Carried the kid who died, and what did you do?" That same day he was also gunned down by Maduro's colectivos, working in concert with his security forces, and murdered. The killings continued.  A high profile killing that shocked the world was the murder of a local beauty queen. Génesis Carmona was just 22 years old and nonviolently expressing her desire for a better Venezuela when she was shot in the head on February 18, 2014 and died a day later on February 19, 2014.  The Maduro regime's repressive apparatus shifted to using tear gas and buckshot to maim and kill so as not to be as obvious after some bad press.

Nevertheless on May 18, 2017 The Miami Herald reported that it had a recording of a Venezuelan general advocating for the use of snipers against street demonstrators "in the future." It appears that "the future" has arrived.
The Maduro regime banned protests and put them down with brutal force. Caracas Chronicles identified the following individuals killed during the Maduro government’s fraudulent Constituent Assembly elections today as of 8:15pm.
  1. Eduardo Olave, 39. Libertador, Mérida. 
  2. Angelo Méndez, 28. Libertador, Mérida. 
  3. Luisa Zambrano, 43. Barquisimeto, Lara. 
  4. Ricardo Campos, 30. Cumaná, Sucre. 
  5. GNB officer Ronald Ramírez Rosales. La Grita, Táchira. 
  6. Luis Ortiz, 16. Tucapé, Táchira  
  7. Adrián Rodríguez, 13. Capacho Viejo, Táchira. 
  8. Iraldo Gutiérrez, 38. Chiguará, Mérida. 
  9. Albert Rosales, 53. Tucapé, Táchira. 
  10. Wilmer Smith Flores, 21. La Grita, Táchira. 
  11. Juan José Monjes, 42. Aguada Grande, Lara. 
  12. Julio Manrique, 22. Ureña, Táchira.
Caracas Chronicles also reported a total of 14 killed today, but opposition figure Henry Ramos Allup places the number at 16. Either way today was the bloodiest day during this cycle of protests that began four months ago and has claimed over 100 lives.

Venezuela has been a full blown dictatorship since the Maduro regime on October 20, 2016 illegally suspended a recall referendum because the dictatorship knew that it could not obtain a favorable result.  The so-called vote for a Constituent Assembly today is to do away with the last vestiges of the old democratic order following the Cuban Stalinist model as the end goal. This is why it is so profoundly unpopular. 

The democratic opposition in Venezuela has been successful to the degree that it has been able to maintain nonviolent discipline. By remaining nonviolent the opposition has been able to mobilize large numbers either to take to the streets, or to withdraw from them in an act of non-cooperation with the dictatorship as was demonstrated today. 

"Violent flanks" and the use of the so-called "diversity of tactics" reduces mobilization and decreases the probability of success for a resistance movement. Strategic thinker Gene Sharper put it succinctly when he said: "using violence is a stupid decision." Violent resistance is not a short cut to ending the regime but prolonging its time and power while undermining the international legitimacy of the opposition.

This would explain why the Maduro regime manufactures evidence and constantly accuses nonviolent activists of being violent ignoring evidence to the contrary.  First and most importantly if the charges are believed it helps to reduce popular mobilization against these regimes which is the greatest threat to their power.  Secondly, it raises questions that can impact international solidarity and support. Third, it allows these regimes to infiltrate agents to carry out violent acts that delegitimize the movement placing it on the defensive in damage control mode.

At the same time the brutality of the Maduro regime against Wuilly Moisés Arteaga, a violinist who played the Venezuelan national anthem during protests first having his violin destroyed, then later shot in the face and now arrested and tortured for simply playing music and dissenting against the government exposes the true nature of the Maduro dictatorship. This brutality is even more evident and fuels international outrage when the opposition is nonviolent.

Today the impotence of brute force was demonstrated with the Maduro regime getting 12.4% of Venezuelans to participate in the sham election while noncooperation achieved an 87.6% of Venezuelans refusing to take part in the fraudulent exercise.

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