Venezuelan protests: Trump administration is sucking the air out of world news

Demonstrators clash with police during a protest in Caracas, Venezuela on April 8, 2017. PHOTO: EPA

This is Holy Week, the last week of Lent, which actually ends today, leading up to Easter. When I was in grade school we used to get a vacation from Thursday to Tuesday. These days, with spring breaks included in most school calendars,  the days off for Easter are limited to Good Friday and, in schools but not most businesses, Easter Monday.

Millions of Venezuelans make there way to beaches for sun and surf. This year a new twist has been put on where and how Holy Week sunning should be done.

In Venezuela this week has traditionally been a time to kick back and relax. Millions of Venezuelans make their way to beaches for sun and surf. This year a new twist has been put on where and how Holy Week sunning should be done.

Since the first of April hundreds of thousands of opposition protesters have taken to the streets daily in an effort to force new election. On the April first the government of Nicolas Maduro stripped the Venezuelan congress of its powers, making the country a de facto dictatorship. The move has since been overturned, but the protests continue. Opposition leaders are urging people to forego the beach this year and take the sun while marching in the streets of Caracas. Will this latest round of demonstrations have the desired effect?

The Venezuelan opposition has been calling for peaceful protests this week, as it has on numerous occasions before. Thus far the result has been failure. Maduro has no interest in a new election, transparent democracy not being high on his list of essentials.  I can only assume he is hoping the situation in the US continues to hold the world’s attention.

There is a popular cliché that fits this situation: the Trump administration is sucking the air out of world news.

If the protests do not succeed in bringing about a new election, then perhaps they will serve to show the world what is happening in the oil-rich country. But I fear that with the regular flow of idiocy out of Washington – from Trump’s knee-jerk reaction to bomb Syrian airfields (some say he would have done the runways more damage had he bought the airfield and tried to run it as a business) to Sean Spicer’s foot/ankle/shin in mouth statement about Hitler not using chemicals – the world is otherwise occupied.

There is a popular cliché that fits this situation: the Trump administration is sucking the air out of world news. International ne’er-do-wells must be having a field-day while world attention focuses on Trump-Russia and Syria.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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World Focus Turns to Venezuela as Caracas Mayor is Arrested or Abducted

Caracas

Caracas, Venezuela

Once again the world’s media is turning its attention to the situation in Venezuela. The turmoil has been there all along, but now the world is taking notice after a bit of a hiatus. The recent arrest, or abduction depending on your political position, of Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma has caught the eye of major news agencies around the globe. Sensational video of the actual removal of the mayor from his office, featuring heavily armed police and military shooting guns, has been broadcast repeatedly on the BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera and other international sites.

This event in Venezuela is just the latest in an ongoing period of social unrest that pits citizens against the government and vice versa. Last year protesters took to the streets and parks of cities across the nation to denounce the government of Nicolas Maduro that, through mismanagement and corruption, has made a bad situation worse. Maduro has continued the corrupt policies of his predecessor and mentor Hugo Chavez, but doesn’t have the charisma that Chavez plied.

Ven_Protests

Mayor Ledezma is a member of the opposition and has long been an outspoken critic of Maduro. The president claims Ledezma was involved in plotting a coup d’etat to overthrow the government, all with the aid and support of the USA. My casual discussions with expatriate Venezuelans usually produce the same result: no one wants to see the destabilizing and dangerous conditions brought on by outside intervention, but they fear it is the only hope for their country.

I don’t have the answer to Venezuela’s problems, I wish I did, but I know that having the conditions there exposed to the world can only help.

In good blogger disclosure, I admit that I actually owe a debt of gratitude to the late Chavez; my significantly better half fled her home, as have hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans, in an effort to live a normal life – unfortunately she met me and all traces of normal were erased, but that’s another story. She was seeking the little things in life like not having strict restrictions placed on your currency and ridiculously high inflation, and well-stocked grocery shelves, police who give you a ticket for blowing a stop sign instead of demanding a bribe. Other members of her family have escaped to Costa Rica and Spain, while several have remained.

Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma

Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma

For consumers of news, boredom sets in easily; no action and they yearn for something else. Last year the protests initially drew much attention as gas and bullets flew, but as days turned into weeks and months, and sexier world events occurred, the plight of Venezuela was pushed to the rear. But Maduro has solved that – muchas gracias Señor – by creating a scene that has fueled a revitalization of media interest worldwide.

One often hears of places or people being described by the expression “a terrible beauty”, well that certainly fits Venezuela. With tropical conditions, a vast influx of cash from tourism should be a given. Sadly the flow of foreign money-toting visitors is stemmed by a conception of lawlessness and danger. The country’s vast oil reserves alone could provide for all, yet many live in poverty due to corruption and mismanagement.

Chavez and Maduro have relied on electoral support from the poor by promising them better living conditions to come, but never delivering. All the while amassing huge fortunes for themselves. According to Jerry Brewer, president of Criminal Justice International Associates, Hugo Chavez’ was worth some US$2B at the time of his death. Much of that believed to have been taken from Venezuelans.

I don’t have the answer to Venezuela’s problems, I wish I did, but I know that having the conditions there exposed to the world can only help.

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

Venezuela: Cheap Barbie Dolls and All About That Bass

Shoppers look at the selection of Barbie dolls for sale at a store in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014. (Ariana Cubillos/AP)

Shoppers look at the selection of Barbie dolls for sale at a store in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014.
(Ariana Cubillos/AP)

In an odd about-face Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has ordered retail outlets to reduce the price of Barbie Dolls. That most iconic of American toys, Barbie was once vilified by Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chavez who stated “the stupidity of Barbie”. One is left to wonder if Chavez actually tried to converse with the doll and, getting no response deemed her stupid.

It must be a relief for Venezuelans to know that in a country where basic staples such as milk and bread are becoming increasingly difficult to find on store shelves, they can be assured of cut-rate Barbie Dolls.

But this year, as part of Maduro’s “Operation Merry Christmas” he has decreed that toy prices be slashed to allow all Venezuelans to purchase them. No Grinch or Bah Humbug about it.

Poor Barbie has often been criticized in North America for being so damned perfect. Young girls see this cellulite-free figure and strive to emulate her. Unfortunately opinion seems to be that the proportions of the Barbie shape would not translate to a real woman. At least not an average real woman, maybe something Picasso created, but not your everyday girl.

As women in plastic-surgery loving Venezuela, land of umpteen beauty pageant queens, spend a fortune to try to look like Barbie, paradoxically their counterparts in the US, home of the “perfect body” doll, are being urged to love what they have.

The currently very popular song by Meghan Trainor, All About That Bass, (which I had assumed was a tribute to a fish … go figure) encourages young women to be satisfied with their shape just as it is.

I see the magazine workin’ that Photoshop
We know that shit ain’t real
C’mon now, make it stop
If you got beauty, beauty, just raise ’em up
‘Cause every inch of you is perfect
From the bottom to the top

It must be a relief for Venezuelans to know that in a country where basic staples such as milk and bread are becoming increasingly difficult to find on store shelves, they can be assured of cut-rate Barbie Dolls.

 

Me DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+