The situation in Venezuela is deteriorating rapidly. The daily confrontations in the streets between opposition protesters and government forces have resulted in four deaths so far, all of them on the opposition side, and countless injuries, to say nothing of the economic costs as businesses are forced to shut down for safety reasons.
The opposition faces an uphill battle on not one, but two fronts. First they are taking to the streets to protest the Maduro government’s continued Hugo Chavez policies. That’s a chore in itself, but they can’t really believe they will win the street fight against the heavily armed troops. More important is the fight for the attention of the world. As I have written elsewhere, the opposition must rely on the world community taking an interest in their plight – as the anti-war protesters said in Chicago in 1968, the whole world is watching. To that end the recent arrest and detainment of opposition leader Leopoldo López is actually a good thing. Perhaps the Venezuelan opposition could take a lesson from the Irish Republican Army in the power of creating martyrs.
Unfortunately for the protesters the whole world is watching the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, and those who are more inclined to take a gander at world affairs are probably taking an interest in the situation in Kiev, Ukraine. If I may be facetious for a moment, that uprising is trumping Venezuela’s in both fatalities and spectacular fires, which seems to lead to continuous television coverage.
Of course what Venezuela has on its side when it comes to widespread world attention is oil. One school of thought sees foreign intervention couched in doing the right thing for democracy but actually being concerned about the vast reserves of oil. While poorer countries have had to rely on hideous scenes of genocide to get the attention of the world, Venezuela’s huge supply of much coveted natural resources may hasten all important international interest.
The protesters will know they are on the right track, and that their efforts are not in vain, when they see CNN, not just CNN en Espanol, setting up shop. Mind you the recent experience of one CNN journalist, Karl Penhaul, of being robbed of his equipment at gunpoint may not be sending the right message!