Yesterday, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro stated that three air force generals were arrested for supposedly plotting a coup against the government. In broadcasted remarks over state-run VTV, President Maduro stated the generals were “trying to turn the air force against the legitimately constituted government…They were organizing a coup. This captured group has direct ties with sectors of the opposition, and they said that this week was the decisive week.” The generals are still unnamed, and will be charged in military court.
President Maduro appears to be facing growing opposition on multiple fronts. Last month, he expelled three U.S. diplomatic officials from the country, after accusing them of conspiring against his government. The expulsions came after a statement by US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, remarking “[w]e are deeply concerned by rising tensions, by the violence surrounding this February 12 protest and by the issuing of a warrant for the arrest of the opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.” However, the Venezuelan government was quick to fire back, stating “[t]he U.S. government is lying when the denounced the arrest of anti- peaceful protesters…The world must know that there is sufficient evidence that the groups that have caused violence in recent days are headed by Mr. Leopoldo López.”
Similar to the situation recently faced by Ukraine, Venezuela has seen mounting protests against the government and the concomitant violence that comes with it. At least 36 people have died and another 461 have been injured in violent clashes between opposition demonstrators and government forces since protests began in February. Additionally, at least 1,854 people have been detained. The protestors and the government reciprocally blame each other for causing the violence. The protestors have been demonstrating against “shortages of goods, high inflation and high crime.”
President Maduro appears to be facing serious predicaments, both from his own government, demonstrated by the recent three air force generals, and from his citizens at large. Do you think his responses have been appropriate?
I am not completely knowledgeable about the situation in Venezuela, but the government does seem to be hypersensitive to possible detractors. It is kind of amazing that members of the Venezuelan Air force would try to organize and possibly overtake the government. What that signals to be is that there must be a lot of dissent within the country that the government is trying to quell before becoming an international event. It isn’t surprising that Venezuela might be the next country to implode politically. Since Chavez died, who was a dominating political force, the country might be ready for a new direction, much to the dissatisfaction of the leading elite. But what we have learned from such events as the Arab Spring and Ukraine, is that if there is general discontent among the populace, then change will happen. It isn’t a question of IF, but WHEN.