Venezuela's “Risk of Chaos Rising”

Increased political confrontation can drive oil-rich Venezuela -- already a very violent country -- into outright chaos, 

Increased political confrontation can drive oil-rich Venezuela -- already a very violent country -- into outright chaos, according to an analysis published by the Inter-American Dialogue, a pro-democracy think-tank in Washington.

As if to underline the timeliness of the report, on one day this past week alone, two high-profile attacks rocked the country: an Army general was murdered and the son of a high ranking government officer was shot and badly wounded in two separate incidents.

General Luis Alberto Godoy was shot and killed inside a bakery in the central Venezuelan city of Maracay on Thursday morning. He was shot in the face and neck by two individuals, from a motorbike, which as of this writing had not been captured, according to local and social media reports.

Godoy, 70, was the head of Human Resources of Corpoelec, the state-owned electric service monopoly, and one of the largest state companies in a country that includes oil giant Pdvsa. Corporelec is in the midst of an intense labor conflict.

Godoy is now one of the 27,000-plus Venezuelans that will be murdered this year, according to NGO projections.

Thursday night, Mauricio Bernal, the 27 year old son of long-time Maduro supporter Mayor Freddy Bernal, was shot outside his home -- once, in the chest, the older Bernal told “El Nacional” newspaper.

The younger Bernal repelled the attack and killed his two assailants but social media reports say that in actuality, it was his bodyguards who felled the attackers.

Freddy Bernal is the government official in charge of the CLAP food-scheme distribution, one that has been criticized for allegedly selling subsidized food only to government supporters.

CONFRONTATION AND CHAOS

All in all, according to Inter-American Dialogue, in Venezuela “the sense of political confrontation has intensified.”

“The country is locked in political paralysis, socio-economic deterioration, and rising levels of despair. The risk of chaos is rising, and with it threats to the democratic system," Dialogue analyst Sergio Bitar wrote.

And still, writes Bitar, “the Venezuelan people have admirably placed their hopes in elections, despite a feeling of impotence in the face of sharp shortages of basic goods and services.”

Venezuelans still believe in democracy, but that belief can be undermined if they see that “the democratic path” of the vote does not solve their most pressing problems, the analysis stated.

LESS VIOLENCE, MORE DIALOGUE

Bitar wrote that “international support for a national dialogue is necessary” in the oil-rich but troubled nation since “Venezuela’s democratic balance is at a high-risk moment”.

Embattled President Nicolas Maduro is resisting with all his resources a referendum petition that is entering the second of three stages. A day does not go by when a government official threatens that the recall won’t happen, or that it will be delayed until next year so that the Vice President finishes Maduro’s term and no new elections would be triggered.

The analysis ends with the recommendation that the existing mediation, by three former ex-Presidents, leads to effective dialogue between Maduro’s government and the opposition, currently locked in a bitter conflict of powers since Maduro controls the executive and the Supreme Court but the opposition rules the National Assembly.

“The UNASUR member states, with the support of the US, China, Cuba, and the EU as observers, might lead to a viable path forward” for dialogue, according to the analysis.

By Carlos Camacho

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