From the Heritage Foundation.
Thousands of supporters and opponents of Venezuela’s socialist government have taken to the streets this past week. Initiated by student groups, the protestors are voicing their grievances against soaring crime rates, high inflation, a shortage of basic goods, and a lack of political and economic freedom.
All the while, the Obama Administration has been relatively silent. The occasional press release from the State Department uses the same recycled lines of “deep concern” that we’ve come to expect from an indifferent Administration. Not even the expulsion of three U.S. diplomats Sunday evening could elicit a stronger statement.
So far, three people have been killed and hundreds have been arrested and tortured. Some even disappeared thanks to government security forces. Videos, pictures, and eyewitness testimony blame the governing regime for the deaths of two of the victims. Armed with automatic weapons, tear gas, grenades and even tanks, the military and police are using all means to silence the democratic opposition.
Much like the Arab Spring, demonstrators have taken to social media—mainly Twitter—to relay information to the international community.
Yet a few days into the demonstrations, the Venezuelan government shut down Twitter and one of the last private cable broadcasters, Colombia’s NTN24. The government has even called for the arrest of leading opposition figurehead Leopoldo Lopez.
At the helm of this sinking ship is Venezuela’s leader, Nicolas Maduro. The former union leader and bus driver-turned-ordained president, he was handpicked by his successor Hugo Chavez.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, CNS News reported on the latest developments.
Violent clashes flared up across Venezuela on Wednesday as the nation waited to learn what charges jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez will face for organizing mass protests that have breathed new life into the movement challenging socialist rule in the oil-rich nation.
[…]There was no immediate word on whether there were any new casualties, after a week of demonstrations and clashes that have resulted in at least six deaths and more than 100 injuries.
[…]The president also said he would take harsh measures in Tachira, an opposition stronghold on the western border with Colombia where there have been fierce clashes between National Guard troops and opposition protesters. Maduro said he is prepared to declare a “state of exception,” a form of martial law.
“If I have to decree a state of exception for Tachira and send in the tanks, I am ready to do it,” he said.
[…][I]n Valencia, the third largest city… National Guard troops fired rubber bullets and unknown gunman on motorcycles fired live rounds at protesters. Genesis Carmona, a 22-year-old university student who had been Miss Tourism 2013 for the state of Carabobo, was struck in the head and killed by a bullet, a death that reverberated in a country that prizes beauty queens.
You can always count on big government socialists to resort to violence when their communist policies fail.
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