Ukraine may be getting all the attention for the moment, but the situation in Venezuela is becoming increasingly violent as well. Residents in cities around the country have begun building barricades to keep out the police, whose tactics have become increasingly harsh. The New York Times paints the scene for us:
A city of 260,000, San Cristóbal was almost completely shut down on Monday. Residents had set up dozens of barricades all around town. In many areas, residents set out nails or drove pieces of rebar into the pavement, leaving them partly exposed, to puncture tires.
In Barrio Sucre, Escarlet Pedraza, 19, showed two motorcycles that she said had been crushed by National Guard troops, who drove armored vehicles over them. She recorded the event on her cellphone camera.
Later, residents burned tires and threw rocks at guardsmen, who advanced and entered a side street, firing tear gas and shotguns directly at the houses.
Venezuela doesn’t offer Great Game geopolitical stakes like Ukraine, so it isn’t as much of a concern for people who don’t live there. But if you do live there, the situation is even uglier and more threatening.The government’s catastrophic and corrupt mismanagement of the economy has left it with fewer and fewer pools of wealth to loot, but 15 years of demagogic promises have created a huge hunger among its supporters, feeding a climate of paranoia and conspiracy-thinking that sees CIA agents under every bush.The country is deeply divided, and it looks like the opposition will be hard pressed to bring the government down. The government has the army, Cuban forces in country, and a network of police and revolutionary committees. But the revolution—and especially the current President, who seems to be less charismatic, politically less deft, and economically even more clueless than his predecessor—is so confused and policy-challenged that it can’t actually manage the country.This is a recipe for a long, grim, ugly slide.