Venezuela expels more
American diplomats imperialist aggressors, arrests opposition for whipping up anti-government violence
posted at 2:41 pm on February 18, 2014 by Erika Johnsen
By this point, the United States is all too familiar with what the Venezuelan government’s panicked scapegoatism in a devolving crisis looks like — i.e., blame foreign imperialist conspirators and economic terrorists in league with greedy domestic opposition politicians trying to undermine the rule of Chavismo — so the latest iteration of the socialist country kicking out American diplomats in the face of erupting protests comes as no surprise. Via the NYT:
Venezuela on Monday ordered three American Embassy officials to leave the country, saying they had been recruiting students to take part in violent antigovernment protests, in the latest in a series of expulsions that have marked a low point in relations between the two countries. …
Mr. Maduro announced the expulsions Sunday night, and on Monday the foreign minister, Elías Jaua, said the three officials, who all worked for the embassy’s consular section, had 48 hours to leave the country.
Mr. Jaua said that the officials had been visiting universities under the pretext of granting visas to students. He charged that “at bottom that is a cover to establish contacts with leaders who they recruit for training, for financing and the creation of youth organizations through which violence is promoted in Venezuela.” …
“The allegations that the United States is helping to organize protesters in Venezuela is baseless and false,” a State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said in a written statement. “Venezuela’s political future is for the Venezuelan people to decide.”
And speaking of those nefarious opposition politicians with which those U.S. diplomats must have obviously been in cahoots, they’re not getting off the hook, either. The police were hunting for one such opposition leader over the weekend, and it appears that he gave himself up this morning for the heinous crime of daring to peacefully speak out against the lawless, tyrannical tactics of Venezuela’s ruling class:
Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez re-emerged Tuesday from days of hiding to make an impassioned speech to thousands of supporters and then surrendered to police, a move that he said will open Venezuelans’ eyes to the increasingly authoritarian bent of their government. …
“We’ve got nothing to hide,” Lopez told a sea of supporters who, like him, were dressed in white to symbolize non-violence. He said it is worth going to jail if it “awakens Venezuela” to the “corrupt” justice and economic “disaster” left by 15 years of socialist rule.
After the short speech, Lopez descended from a statue of 19th century Cuban independence hero Jose Marti and walked a few feet to a police picket, where he turned himself in. …
Lopez was being sought by authorities on an arrest order for allegedly inciting violence that broke out during protests last week in which three people were killed. He faces charges including homicide and vandalism of public property. Maduro accuses Lopez of leading a “fascist” plot to overthrow him.
— Reporte Ya (@ReporteYa) February 18, 2014
Maduro can point to all of the trumped-up distractions he wants for as long as he can manage, but none of it is going to fix Venezuela’s broken economic system that’s really fueling the unrest.
It’s become a country that’s unlivable for much of the population. The currency on the black market has fallen to a fourth of what it was worth in a year. Inflation is officially at 56 percent, but it’s actually much higher than that. … They don’t have the money to fix the situation because they don’t sell enough oil. … The fact is that they keep making the same mistakes over and over again, hoping that tried and true economic policies that haven’t worked in Cuba will work in Venezuela. … The middle classes, many of them are dependent on the state for jobs, because oil is the only game in town, oil brings in all the money and all of that is that is controlled by the government. So, you need to be quiet and accept the porridge that you get if you’re a a middle-class person.