By Simren Singh:
‘Venezuelan Uprising: How it is my story too!’
‘Venezuela Split by Pro- and Anti-Maduro Protests’
‘Venezuelans fume as government signals end to ‘free’ petrol’
‘Venezuelan President blames media for ‘broadcasting hate’
‘Truck ploughs through Venezuelan protesters’
‘Venezuela orders troops into border city amid fierce clashes’
Disclaimer: Above lines are not mere headlines, they make a dreadful reality for the people living in Venezuela.
A country that is most urbanized in South America, a nation with impressive literacy rate, a land which is rich in natural resources and where petrol is cheaper than water, it becomes hard to imagine why would the people of any such place be unhappy and rise up against the government. But, resentment and anguish do not come on its own especially in a country where democracy fails to deliver to its people. Ridden with intense corruption, Venezuela today faces a severe economic crisis with inflation rate soaring as high as 50% and a chronic shortage of basic goods of necessity. Following the death of the popular President Hugo Chavez, the socialist economy of Venezuela that showed visible cracks then is now absolutely crumbled with President Nicolas Maduro’s “dictatorial” take over in early 2014. Rampant unemployment and intense crime rate acted as catalysts to stir civil unrest that has entered its second week now. The government, unsurprisingly, has come up with authoritarian measures (use of tear gas, massive arrests and media censorship) to shun angry voices. In a place where a crime is committed every twenty-one minutes, Venezuela has become a battlefield with pro and anti-Maduro blood flowing in profusion.
Sitting a thousand miles away in a place where incidences of crime, political scandals, and civilian protests almost make daily news, it isn’t much interesting to read about anything that is remotely connected to me or my country. More importantly, such occurrences are not new and if one looks around, one could find similar happenings in some part of the world or the other. So, why bother about issues that do not affect me directly? That is a common view that most of us would share. Nevertheless, there’s a common thread that runs across all societies that brings ‘us’ closer to ‘them’, and with the link being that of ‘shared vulnerabilities’ and humanity, situation as grim and gory as that in Venezuela make our ignorance impossible.
With incidences of mass protests in Ukraine, Thailand and now Venezuela, what has come to the forefront is the deep resentment people have against their governments and the ‘hyper’ insecurity that runs deep in the psyche of states. The promptness with which troops are deployed to control and counter the masses (read: citizens) manifest nothing but the increasing weakness on the part of governments to sustain support and exercise power (read: legitimate power). A regime’s insecurity is brought to light the moment its interests clash with that of the people. As citizens, we are vulnerable to negative implications of state policies and also state violence. The conflict in Venezuela has garnered mixed reactions from the international community. While the blame game is on from the sides of both supporters and protestors, allies and non-allies; violence at this scale is condemned by all. But, is condemnation enough? Can the wrongs committed be ever undone? Can justice be ever delivered? Can those guilty of extreme violation of rights and violence (especially the state) be ever convicted? Why does it become necessary to topple governments and who wins and who loses out in the process?
The story of Venezuelans is not theirs alone, it is a story that engulfs such perplexing thoughts, and it is a story about our common fight for justice and unless delivered such stories will never find a happy end.