(Este post está en español aquí)
If the recent aggressiveness by the Chavez administration reflects the fear by the Dictator that his popularity may be dropping like a stone, the recent protests and riots in Curiepe, must be sending shivers down Chavez’ spine. Because Curiepe’s uprising can’t just be shoved under the rug like the Government tried to do by having the official media ignore the riots, no more than it can blame the events on some mastermind plot by opposition sabotageurs like the Major of that city tried to do.
You see, Curiepe is pro-Chavez territory, Mayor Liliana Gonzalez won last November with 2,059 votes (48.48%) versus 1,414 (33.29%) for her closest opponent who was indeed for the opposition. But the drums of Curiepe began crying for war yesterday over the defenestration of their local police and despite the attempt to surprise the city’s population with the National Guard raid on the police headquarters in the early hours of the morning, the people came out en force. And they were outraged once the National Guard began spraying tear gas, getting everyone out into the streets, including eighty and ninety year old women. And this man in his Che Guevara t-shirt being gassed below looks little like part of the opposition as the Curiepe Mayor would like you to believe
and if the pictures below are pictures of the opposition “destabilizing” the Government, then Chavez, Ramirez, Diosdado and the other cohorts of the revolution are really out of touch:
Because the Government did not blow it once, but twice in dealing with this confrontation. The first one was to think that out of town and heavily armed National Guardsmen would be welcomed into Curiepe to remove the local police, composed of townies, out of their headquarters, just because Chavez and his Government wanted to limit the power of police of the State of Miranda, now that the people made the mistake of electing an opposition Governor.
Because this is the typical useless plan and fight that the Chavez Government engages in that takes up a lot of its time to obtain a political victory, but yields little, if any, benefit to the people, whether they support the revolution or not.
It all started with the defeat of pretty eyes Cabello to the Governorship of Miranda State last November. Clearly, while numbers were indicating Cabello would lose due to his low popularity, Cabello somehow thought that mobilizing and paying voters (and who knows what else!) would somehow give him the victory despite his lag in the polls. But it was not to be and Cabello scrambled to move money out of the Governorship before handing over power and decided to reduce the power of the State police, knows as Polimiranda.
On November 28th. 2008, the day before the new Governor was sworn in, thousands of weapons were removed from local policemen and ever since then, there has been a constant bickering over jurisdiction between the National Guard and the local police. The Government has sent in National Guardsmen in three towns, to remove the local police and replace it with out of town guardsmen. The moves, which have no legal basis, have been resisted by the population as they realize that no matter how bad Polimiranda may be, at least they are there for them when it comes to stopping crime and defending the people in the town. In contrast, the people view the National gaurd as their out of town repressive enemies, ready to act against them if orders from their superior says so.
And when the Guardsmen came in and removed the police from their headquarters, with the backing of the Chavista Mayor, the people were mad and the drums began calling for war against the invasion. And when tear gas was used, the population was incensed as women are children were out in the streets defending what little quality of life they could have with the thought that Polimiranda was there for them.
And while this was being shown on the traditional media, the Government sponsored media, VTV, Telesur, ABN, simply ignored the riots for over half a day. Thus, even those who are pro-Chavez had to go and watch (God forbid!) Globovision or Venevision, because their leader was censoring the repression of Curiepe. And this attempt at censorship was simply too close to Chavez and his cronies expressing their outrage over censorship in Honduras.
And as a tense calm spreads over Curiepe, the reality is that the people are upset. And having the Head of the National Guard come on TV to say that the Curiepe operation was “impeccable” is not precisely what the people of Curiepe wanted to hear. And to deny the existence of injuries simply shows how insensitive the “people’s” Government has become. Somehow the needs of the Honduran people seem to be more important to the Dictator than their own.
And as the Government dismisses Curiepe, it also minimizes the problems in Guayana or today’s very succesful strike in the country’s universities. But the people are not dumb, they understand the implications of shutting down the radio stations for their ability to be informed, the same way they resent Zelaya’s jet setting in PDVSA’s jets and the “new” limits over Government officials pay which sets an upper bound of US$ 95,000 for the salary of a revolutionary Deputy, Minister or Justice.
And as even aporrea.org seems to maintain a surprising silence over Curiepe. Chavismo should learn from history and heed the war cry of Curiepe’s drums. Because they are not being played for San Juan, following tradition, they are being played as a protest and in the defense of the people who only six months ago, believed that Hugo Chavez was best for their future, but today are willing to go and fight his emissaries, even if their only weapons are the drums and their outrage.
And both of them may be signaling that the people want attention and demand that Chavez stay home and worry about their problems and not those of far away lands which are difficult for the average Venezuelan to even imagine.