Archive for June 16th, 2006

The true asymmetrical war going on in Venezuela

June 16, 2006


President Chávez and
the old guard Generals that surround him speak at every turn of the so called
“asymmetrical war” the country is supposedly engaged in. It even goes beyond their
simple words, with the Government spending close to US$ 5 billion in new
military equipment, from Kalashnikovs rifles, to helicopters to jets, all in the
name of this phantom war, which appears to exist only in the febrile brains of
the President and his comrades and which is used to generate political goodwill
for the Government.

Meanwhile, Venezuela is
truly engaged in a very asymmetrical war. It is a tragic war, because more people
have died from it since Hugo Chavez took power in 1998, than either in the war
in Afghanistan or the war in
Iraq.
It is asymmetrical, because despite the Government’s claim to care about the
poor, this war mostly affects those without the resources to defend themselves
from it. I am talking about the war in which 44 Venezuelans are killed everyday
near their homes or at their homes, murdered by common criminals or too often
in confrontations with the very same people that are supposed to protect them
from the criminals: the police.

The war is doubly
asymmetrical in that the same Government that spends billions in military
equipment, gives away billions in aid and gifts to other countries, or makes
useless and senseless investments in other countries, spent a scant US$ 63
million in providing equipment for all of the local police forces in the
country.

It is remarkable that
this war generates so little publicity, almost no noise and is so far from
being the international scandal that it should be. According to official
figures 68,926 Venezuelan were killed by common criminals or in violent
confrontation with the police since Chávez took over in 1998. Compare that to
the 23,700 killed in the seven years prior to Chávez being elected the first
time and nobody can even begin to blame the current levels of homicides to the
previous Governments or the 40 terrible years of the IVth. Republic. As with so
many things in Venezuela
today, like corruption, poverty or inefficiency, things are simply so much
worse with Chavez, even if they were already pretty bad before him.

But compare the same
numbers with real wars elsewhere and it just so happens that more Venezuelans
have died from homicides since Chávez took over, than people on both sides have
died in the Iraqi war (63 thousand ), or
the war in Afghanistan (33 thousand) or the war in Chechnya (50 thousand) or proportionately
even the armed war in Colombia (73 thousand in the last ten years)

But this war does not
affect me, as much as it affects the ordinary Venezuelans that live in the
barrios, where most of these deaths take place, in a proportion which is
inordinate with the size of their population. And it does not affect revolutionary politicians and their families who go around the country in armored cars full of bodyguards. Meanwhile, Chávez wears Panerai watches, plays
with rifles to scare the population and gives away the money of those same
Venezuelans all over the world , in order to increase his influence and promote himself.

It is indeed a very
asymmetrical and almost silent war, which receives little coverage on the part of the official
media, which receives little attention from the Government, which is never
mentioned by Hugo Chávez and which is simply ignored by the Government’s
unconditional supporters both here and abroad.

It is another human
right denied to all Venezuelans by a negligent and fraudulent revolution. Another seldom
told tragedy of the last seven years, which incredibly does not even touch the
sensitivity of the insensitive autocrat.

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