As the daily street protests grow bloodier and bloodier, Venezuelan President Maduro has escalated his comments today, exclaiming that he “won’t be bullied,” and warning “prepare yourself, we are coming for you,” if protesters don’t “go home within hours.”
- *VENEZUELAN PROTESTERS HAVE ‘HOURS’ TO CLEAR BARRICADES: MADURO
- *MADURO SAYS HE’LL SEND ARMED FORCES TO ‘LIBERATE’ PROTEST AREAS
With 28 dead in the last month of protests, things are very serious but as we warned previously, Maduro still enjoying the support of the poor – as EuroNews reports, it appears he is not going anywhere soon. John Kerry also came under fire as the foreign minister called him “a “murderer of the Venezuelan people,” accusing him of encouraging the protests.
As Bloomberg reports,
Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro says he will send armed forces to clear barricaded areas if “protesters don’t go home within hours.”
“Prepare yourself, we are coming for you,” Maduro tells soldiers at army event in Caracas
Plaza Altamira in eastern Caracas, the center of the protests, first to be “liberated,” Maduro says
As tensions with the US continue to rise:
The United States on Friday brushed aside “absurd” accusations by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro that it was meddling in the country’s internal affairs by intervening in anti-government protests.
Venezuela’s foreign minister Elias Jaua had earlier called top US diplomat John Kerry a “murderer of the Venezuelan people,” accusing him of encouraging the protests that have killed 28 people in five weeks.
“The solution to Venezuela’s problems lies in democratic dialogue among Venezuelans, not in repression or in hurling verbal brickbats at the United States,” a state department official said on condition of anonymity.
“Venezuela’s government needs to focus on solving its growing economic and social problems, not on making absurd allegations against the United States.”
Maduro, however, charged that “the desperate government interventionism of the United States is clear.”
“There’s a slew of statements, threats of sanctions, threats of intervention. There has been lobbying by the highest officials in the US government,” he said.
As Stratfor notes, these protests could mark a turning point as the economic situation deteriorates there is a chance that protests like this could begin to generate additional social momentum in rejection of the status quo…Perhaps things could be changing for Maduro…
Relatively large student-led opposition protests convened in Caracas, Valencia, Maracaibo and many other cities throughout the country. Rough Stratfor estimates put the crowd in Caracas at between 15,000-20,000 people based on aerial photos posted on social media. Venezuela’s students are very politically active and protests are frequent. However, the relatively large turnout and widespread geographic distribution of this week’s protests indicate that the movement may be gaining traction.
The challenge that the student movement will face is in finding a way to include Venezuela’s laboring class, which for the most part still supports the government, and relies on its redistributive policies. Their inability to rouse broad support across Venezuela’s social and economic classes was in part why previous student uprisings, including significant protests in 2007, failed to generate enough momentum to trigger a significant political shift.
But the situation has changed in Venezuela, and as the economic situation deteriorates there is a chance that protests like this could begin to generate additional social momentum in rejection of the status quo. President Nicolas Maduro has been in office for less than a year, and in that time the inflation rate has surged to over 50 percent and food shortages are a daily problem. Though firmly in power, the Chavista government is still struggling to address massive social and economic challenges. Massive government spending, years of nationalization and an overreliance on imports for basic consumer goods have radically deteriorated inflation levels, and undermined industrial production.
How the government responds will play a key role in the development of these protests going forward. The government cannot afford to crack down too hard without risking even worse unrest in the future. For its part, the mainstream opposition must walk a careful line between supporting the sentiment behind open unrest and being seen as destabilizing the country. Maduro retains the power to punish opposition politicians, and reaffirmed that Feb. 11 when he stated on national television that he intends to renew the law allowing him to outlaw political candidates who threaten the peace of the country. The statement was a clear shot over the bow of opposition leaders, and may foreshadow a more aggressive government policy designed to limit political opposition.
Perhaps it is the use of armed forces directly and aggressively that will roil the “poor”‘s perspective – we will see