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Editorial/Opinion

 

VenEconomy: Coups and countercoups

 

 

For years Hugo Chávez has been carrying out constant coups against Venezuela's Constitution, its laws, the rule of law, and all the country's democratic institutions under the indifferent and even conspiratorial gaze of international bodies, in particular the Organization of American States.

One of Chávez's most recent and frontal coups has been the one he has mounted against the governors and mayors of the Democratic Alliance. He has unilaterally refused to acknowledge the mandate they were each accorded on November 23, 2008, by hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans to govern in their respective regions and has availed himself of whatever maneuvers and measures have occurred to him, regardless of how unconstitutional or illegal they may be.

These governors and mayors have been responding to these coups with countercoups, employing perseverance and forcefulness and putting up democratic resistance, including a hunger strike by the Mayor of Metropolitan Caracas. The results of this particular countercoup are only just beginning to materialize. The most relevant is to have finally managed to get OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza to turn his attention to Venezuela, this time not to receive lines of action from Hugo Chávez, but to listen to what the governors and mayors of the Democratic Alliance have to say about the multiple coups to which they have been subjected by his mentor. For some, this amounts to very little, and it may be that these mayors and governors will not obtain the response they should from an organization whose duty it is to ensure that democratic principles are respected in the region. But it is a small step forward.

Another of the more recent coups carried out by Chávez and his government is the coup against the population of Miranda state, where opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski is governor. This week it is the turn of the impoverished region of Barlovento, whose population is, for the most part, sympathetic to Chávez.

This coup, which is part of Chávez's strategy of divesting the state government of the spheres of competence that are its by right according to the Constitution, consists of stripping the Miranda State Police of its offices and functions, no matter that this leaves the security of the population in the hands of the meager, ill-equipped municipal police forces at a time when crime is rampant.

The countercoup this week came from the population itself, when two small Miranda communities (Caucagua and Curiepe) defended their police forces from central government's clutches with drums and civic determination. Although Caucagua managed to prevent the seizure of its police station, Curiepe has come up against the deaf ear of a mayoress who has allowed the National Guard, armed to the teeth, to attack an unarmed population. What happened on Wednesday, July 15, in Curiepe has clearly demonstrated that Chávez is prepared to go to unspeakable lengths to impose his discretionary will.

But Chávez has other irons in the fire, among them the coup against the trade union movement, which has clung fast to its role as defender of the labor demands of hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan workers at PDVSA, Ferrominera, and other CVG companies, not to mention the demands of teachers, doctors, and employees of the courts and the government services.

In this case, the countercoup that is being mounted consists of peaceful protests by the workers' movement in different parts of the country, from Guayana to Zulia to Caracas. And then there is a joining of forces of trade union leaders, who, setting political affiliations aside, are to meet this weekend to prepare a single agenda to confront the hegemony and aggression of the Chávez administration.

The challenge now is to overcome fear in order to defend democratic rights and citizen freedoms by way of the Constitution and the law.


 

VenEconomy has been a Venezuela's leading specialized publisher on financial, political and economic data since 1982. VenEconomy's Points of View on the issues of the day, as seen by VenEconomy during the last week. Petroleumworld does not necessarily share these views.

Editor's Note: This commentary was originally published by VeneEconomy on 07/16/2009. Petroleumworld reprint this article in the interest of our readers .

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Petroleumworld News 07/21/09

 

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