Sunday, February 16, 2014

#SOSVenezuela: Non-violent National Student Movement versus Maduro, the Castros and their security apparatus

Students in Venezuela practicing the power of nonviolence defending truth and love of country confront a government that uses brute violence, lies and instigation to hatred to preserve their power.

Student nonviolently faces off with a security vehicle holding up a flag
On February 12, 2014 Venezuela's National Youth Day millions of young students took to the streets to nonviolently protest "the social and economic crisis caused by the illegitimate government that Venezuela has today."  Young Venezuelans inside and outside of the country have mobilized in a coherent and sustained effort to expose the anti-democratic nature of the government. A full and brief explanation is offered by Andreina Nash in the video titled: What's going on in Venezuela in a nutshell.

These students are facing a government that over the past fourteen years has been stripping Venezuela's democracy of all its constitutional and institutional democratic safeguards in order to consolidate power into the United Socialist Party of Venezuela and in the presidency. At the same time the presence of both Cuban state security and military officials in the country who have presided over the building of a totalitarian apparatus is cause for great concern. They have used technological tools to censor images over twitter. Over the past 14 years independent television press outlets have been taken over or shutdown by the government. Only the social media remain and outside media sources. Both have been blocked by the Maduro government during these demonstrations.

Students marching in Venezuela for their freedom
In Venezuela nonviolent public protests are being criminalized and government agents directing armed pro-government groups known as "colectivos", or what are known in Cuba as "rapid response brigades", have been set up to terrorize public demonstrators critical of the government. On February 11, 2014 Roderick Navarro and Guido Mercado reported over twitter the names of a few of the students wounded by gunshots that same day who had been identified: Jorge Monsalve 20 years old, Franco Perez 15 years old (Thorax), Pedro Alison 24 years old (Left arm), Anny Paredes 36 years old (Abdomen).  A day later on February 12, 2014, National Youth Day in Venezuela, the repression escalated and Robert Redman, Neyder Arellano Sierra y Bassil Alejandro Da Costa were all shot in the head and killed. All extra-judicially executed by collectives and officials of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (Sebin) against the nonviolent student marches. Sebin agents are trained by the Cubans.Their is an effort underway by the Maduro government to criminalize nonviolent dissent in Venezuela.

Brutal repression against students in Venezuela
Cuban state security thrives on the creative use of lies and violence to sow division in opposition movements and discredit them with the use of infiltrators into the movement. This can be seen now by provocateurs engaging in violent acts that are seized on by the Maduro government to portray the student movement as violent. Wisely, the student movement in Venezuela is nonviolent and condemns violence and has called on its members to record and document any acts of violence and for members of the movement to expel anyone engaged in violence. This is an example of what is known as nonviolent discipline and is a demonstration of maturity and strategic vision by the student movement.

Their best chance of success in achieving their goals is maintaining the nonviolent character of their movement along with coherent tactics and an overall strategy that will take them to where they want to go. Gene Sharp, a scholar of nonviolent resistance asserts that nonviolence is not an unarmed struggle but one that relies on different tools than those used in violence:

"I say nonviolent struggle is armed struggle. And we have to take back that term from those advocates of violence who seek to justify with pretty words that kind of combat. Only with this type of struggle one fights with psychological weapons, social weapons, economic weapons and political weapons. And that this is ultimately more powerful against oppression, injustice and tyranny then violence."
Sharp also observes that "using violence is a stupid decision." This is because paradoxically the more brutal the regime the more successful nonviolent movements are in confronting them when compared to violent movements. Furthermore nonviolent movements can succeed without the aide of outside powers, states or interests but violent movements depend on outside support to succeed. When comparing rates of success over the past century nonviolence comes out on top.

My prayers, solidarity, thoughts and best wishes are with the student movement in Venezuela.

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