Following the expropriation policies of former President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s Maduro expropriated the General Motors factory in the city of Valencia.

The event occurred as the country is living its most severe wave of nationwide protests since 2014. Venezuelans currently are protesting the lack of basic goods, world-class criminality, and the rupture of the constitutional order, as the Supreme Court’s justices tried to dissolve the opposition-held National Assembly. So far, nine people have been killed in the protests, which are not expected to stop anytime soon as opposition leaders show no signs of backing down.

Venezuela protests
Demonstrators face off Bolivarian National Police officers in a protest carried out Thursday. Image credit: EFE/Cristian Hernández.

Venezuelans fight for their rights

April 21 marks the 20th day of nationwide protests in Venezuela, which have resulted in nine deaths and hundreds of arrests. The opposition’s argument is to have Maduro ousted from power due to the systematic rupture of the separation of authority, as it is written in the constitution. Besides, Venezuela is living the worst crisis in its history, with power and water shortages, lack of food, three-digit inflation, and a soaring criminality rate.

Protests intensified on April 19, after the “mother of all marches,” which corresponded to the destitution of the Spanish-designated ruler Vicente Emparan back in 1810, marking the first steps toward the independence of Venezuela. On the other hand, the triggering point of the protests is the recent Supreme Court’s decision to revoke powers from the National Assembly.

Venezuela protests
Bolivarian National Guard officers blocked the streets to stop protesters from reaching the ombudsman. Image credit: EFE/Miguel Gutierrez.

Opposition leaders took to the streets and intensified protests, putting themselves at risk as they faced brutal repression from the Maduro regime. In 2014, a similar effort took place, with the difference that back then, the opposition was divided, and there was not a solid argument for protesting other than wanting to oust Maduro.

Now, opposition leaders are fiercer than ever and have vowed not to leave the streets until there is a change coming from the Maduro regime.

One of the factors in play is that the government decided to suspend any electoral process that was supposed to take place. That includes the recall referendum which would have removed Maduro from power, and governor elections, which would have also impacted his grip on power.

Analysts assure that the government will do anything to maintain power, not thinking twice about repressing people and using its paramilitary groups to dissolve protests.

What to expect in the following weeks

The Maduro regime has soldered itself into power because most high officials are to be tried for drug trafficking and violating human rights. Leaving Venezuela as asylum seekers would not allow them to be at peace as most are considered to be criminals, and if they were to stay in the country, the opposition assured that they would be tried for their crimes as soon as the next administration assumes power.

The government is asking for dialogue, a technique that they employed back in 2014 but saw no real results, but rather a “cooling down” of the protests, allowed by the opposition to show that they are willing to reach a peaceful settlement.

Venezuela protests
The opposition argues that they have little to negotiate, seeing that they are claiming the right to free and fair elections and to protest peacefully, all of which are present in the constitution. Image credit: EFE/Miguel Gutierrez.

If the Maduro regime were to allow elections of some sort, it would be under its own conditions, limiting parties and opposition leaders from running. The government already disabled Henrique Capriles, one of the opposition’s leaders, from running for office for the next 15 years. Just weeks ago, the government also tried to force parties to re-validate themselves through an arduous and unnecessary process, all to encumber and demoralize the opposition. It is sufficient to say that all common pathways to a peaceful resolution have been discarded.

Meanwhile in the international scene, most countries in America wish for a peaceful settlement to the conflict and are leaning on the opposition’s side, although long-term allies of the Maduro regime, such as Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, are supporting the thesis that it is all a conspiracy to promote a coup against Maduro or an intervention by foreign powers.

Most agree that the military will be the key to the resolution of the conflict. From the outside, it seems that the army is firmly by Maduro’s side, although all opposition leaders claim that there is discomfort in the barracks.

Whoever has the monopoly of violence is in control of power. Usually, it is the military, but Venezuela is teeming with criminals and paramilitary groups, formed by Hugo Chavez to serve as an additional tool for repression, allowing the government to keep the National Guard away from the most violent and inhumane types of repression.

Since the 2002 failed coup, Chavez made sure to arm the civilian population, allowing them to have the upper hand in combat with opposition forces. This, joined with a mantle of impunity, creates the perfect scenario for a civil war, which is another term for what the protests are expected to become in the next following weeks.

Source: The Hill