MEXICO CITY -- For the last 15 years, Venezuela has been mired in crisis, characterized by wasteful government spending, rampant corruption, growing authoritarianism, relentless human rights violations, and now economic collapse. But, beyond the occasional sharp word from the late President Hugo Chávez, the periodic expropriation of a foreign company without adequate compensation, and some minor meddling in the elections of neighboring countries, the crisis barely registered abroad. This is no longer the case.
BUENOS AIRES -- Those Europeans tempted by populist politics should see in Latin America an avoidable future: the empty shelves in Venezuela while its government finds funds to support populist party Podemos in Spain or the stagflation in Argentina that hurts the poor while the sitting vice president is twice indicted for embezzlement. These are not accidents; they are the logical consequences of authoritarian regimes that think themselves beyond reproach or term limits.
On Saturday morning, the local Caracas TV stations captured our attention with footage of a daring escape by a rebel pilot, who ejected from his plane seconds before a fiery crash at La Carlota military airport.
All this to hide that he doesn't know how to govern and can only imitate the dismal model he's inherited from his mentors of the Plaza of the Revolution. The result is a bad copy of the Cuban model, a crude replica in which ideology has ceded its entire terrain to the ravings of a man.
Even with the economic problems in Venezuela, the government has decided to press forward in fully funding its social programs.
As a matter of security, the announcer now explained, the government had suspended many basic civil liberties. What rights had we lost during our ill-fated vacation?
In Venezuela the armed forces are not allowed to enforce public order. The only component of the military that may act in certain civil defense roles is the National Guard, yet the new resolution does not distinguish. But that is just one small detail.
Latin American leaders greeted with surprise and excitement the resumption of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States.
We take the electoral process to be the first symptom of a democracy, but that in and of itself is very far from sufficient. By that measure, Russia is a democracy, as are Iran and Singapore -- and indeed, many of the former Cold War Warsaw Pact regimes.
President Obama is poised to sign a bill sanctioning Venezuela over alleged concern for human rights in that country. Thousands of Venezuelans have responded to this news by marching in protest of these sanctions.
Can you honestly trust that Maria Corina Machado will receive due consideration under the rule of law in this case? And if not, what does that say about the Venezuelan regime?
I recently read your statement decrying the UN General Assembly's election of Venezuela to the UN Security Council. This statement, so obviously laden with hypocrisy, necessitated this response.
In the midst of the unrest this year in Venezuela, there was little attention paid in the media to the conditions facing Indigenous peoples in that country and where they stood in regard to the anti-government demonstrations.
While it is important to be well-read and keep up with the news, it can be equally important to make sure the news stories mean something to you personally.
"My husband, Leopoldo Lopez, is in prison for saying what all of Venezuela wanted to hear."
Justice Vegas is optimistic about Venezuela's future and believes that the democratic process began by Hugo Chavez 15 years ago will continue and grow.