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The Silence of Our Friends

With the world’s eyes on Crimea, the Venezuelan people have continued to face detrimental shortages, skyrocketing crime, property seizures and dystopian censorship; features ironically characteristic of former Soviet states in colder times. The massacring of students is continuing with gusto.  The death toll has risen to 30, with over 1300 demonstrators now jailed or in critical condition. The Bolivarian government has been emboldened by the tepid reaction from the international community, and will continue its criminal acts until echoing apathy is replaced with clear condemnation.  

Global media outlets, like The Guardian, Al-Jazeera, and the CBC, have failed to dedicate adequate coverage to the severity of the crisis. They have downplayed the atrocities to hide their collective guilty conscience, ashamed for having romanticized the so-called “socialist revolution” for over a decade. Hollywood elites, like Oliver Stone, Sean Penn and Michael Moore, once happy to revise Latin America’s history through disgraceful documentaries, have gone quiet, ashamed for having coddled up to Hugo Chavez when he lived, and having praised Maduro before he started to kill. Powerful pillars of entertainment and the fourth estate have played a role in hindering the struggle for liberty in Venezuela, legitimizing the regime by ignoring its abuses.

Nicolás Maduro, the country’s illegitimate leader, recently took to the airwaves to slander the Panamanian government, calling President Martinelli the USA’s “groveling lackey” for merely suggesting that the OAS investigate the Chavista crackdown. Panama, Central America’s success story, a haven for thousands of Venezuelan exiles, has, to date, borne the highest burden in denouncing the brutality being inflicted upon its southern neighbors. Maduro claims to have cut off relations due to the government’s declarations, but he is also disguising the fact that Venezuela owes the merchants in Panama’s special economic zone over one billion dollars. This overreaction is simply a pathetic maneuver to avoid the payment of debt. Despite the monetary loss, a country with no army of which to speak has stood firm, respectfully refusing to retract its statements in favor of peace and democracy in the Western Hemisphere. More nations should be so courageous.

The Harper government, once quick to sanction rogues states, has dragged its feet in even verbally condemning the violence in Venezuela, despite its significant pull in Latin America. President Obama, between fireside chats with Zach Galifianakis, has not lifted a finger to curb Venezuelan oil imports, even when the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is flush enough to permit him to do so. Brazil’s Roussef has allowed her energy partnership with Venezuela to cloud her conscience, distressing when professional protestors are accidentally injured in Rio, and smiling as students are executed in the streets of Caracas. Mexico’s Peña Nieto mimics her, anxious to preserve economic growth by maintaining amicability with even the most disdainful parties. Tragically, some of the West’s sterling models of democracy have responded in a timid manner to the mass violation of human rights taking place within their own sphere of influence. They have whispered their opposition instead of bellowing it with gravitas and backing it up with tangible punishments.

Chavez, who called himself “the great liberator,” proverbially conquered many territories during his rule. He propped up the failing Cuban regime and shipped subsidized oil to the demagogic governments running Argentina, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Bolivia, creating a colonial empire dependent on the Venezuelan people’s teat. He dispatched aid to the campaign of the sitting president of Peru, a coward who used his presidency of UNASUR to legitimize the 2013 Venezuelan electoral fraud. Chile’s President Piñera, an unyielding critic of the regime, has just left office, Colombia’s Santos is occupied trying to talk the FARC to death, and Panama’s righteous rhetoric doesn’t match its size. While using military force against Venezuela is not an option, North America and Brazil have the trade surpluses and political sway necessary to impose individual sanctions and trade sanctions against the Chavista inner circle and their flailing economy, measures that will further weaken the already unstable despots.

Dr. Martin Luther King stated “we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Venezuelans can feel the bullets of their corrupt rulers, see the incursion of Cuban forces, and hear the resounding silence of their nation’s supposed allies. The youth in the streets seeking a better future are fully aware that their own government, the arbitrator of the violence, is hindering them. What is more heartbreaking is that they find themselves stranded in a region full of allies in name, but devoid of courage, abandoned in a hemisphere brimming with recipients, and yet vacant of givers. Before urgency fizzles out, before it is engulfed in defeatism and hopelessness, action must be taken to deter the bloodshed.

To drown out their enemies, Venezuelans desperately need to hear the voices of their friends.


-Avik Jain 


Image: AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by Globovisión

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