Venezuela is moving fast toward an authoritarian regime of government. In the past several weeks, President Nicolas Maduro has the borrowed a chapter from the Castro brothers' manual. The Chavistas in Caracas are trying to hide their inefficiency and inability to manage one of the richest countries of South America, by blaming and repressing opposition leaders and the youth. The uprisings in the main urban centers are not the cause of the problems that Venezuelans are facing, but they are a consequence.
The highest inflation rate in the hemisphere, a stagant economy, the continuous violation of the human rights, and deep division among its citizens are due to Maduro’s failed policies and have nothing to do with the United States, Leopoldo Lopez or other opposition leaders.
Maduro is using this unviable political climate to put in action his real goals: to transform Venezuela in the new Cuba.
Venezuela once was considered one of the "Competitive Authoritarianisms." Explained in a book by Harvard Professor Steven Lewitsky and University of Toronto's Lucan Way, it is a nation that allows elections, but still commits serious abuses of the democratic process. Now, Venezuela is dangerously becoming a harder militarized regime.
During the Chavez’ years, Venezuela had developed a sophisticated and corrupt system that combined "political clientelism," essentially a form of quid-pro-quo, with what University of Texas Professor Kurt Weyland called “discriminatory legalism," a double standard of justice for friends and enemies. This resulted in a biased utilization of the government-controlled judiciary to fight and destroy the opposition leaders. If you were an anti-Chavista leader or public agent, the government would quickly invent a legal – and usually false – case against you, your family or your business, to affect your career and future.
Now, as the crisis in Venezuela worsens, it threatens democracy and freedom in the entire region, since the Caracas regime has strong ties to a network of Latin American and Caribbean governments. Due to its enormous oil wealth and its ideological agenda, first Chavez and now Maduro have received the support, not only of other populists such as Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua and to a lesser degree the Christina Kirchner in Argentina, but also of more moderate, European-style socialists in Brazil, Chile or Uruguay.
These nations are doing nothing to put pressure on Venezuela. And not one word condemning abuses there has come from any Inter-American organization.
The only effective action to save democracy, freedom and human rights in Venezuela must come from the United States, as the political analyst Dick Morris is now advocating. The richest country in the world has the only one weapon that can put definitive pressure on Maduro.
The anti-Americanism of the Chavismo is financed largely by Americans. Venezuela sells more than 50 percent of its oil to the U.S. And because it is a very heavy grade of petroleum, there are few other alternative destinations. Taking advantage of the huge liquefied gas and shale oil boom, President Obama and the U.S. could easily shut off the flow of oil from Venezuela, since it represents only 14 percent of its total imports.
We are not talking about a new embargo. It would simply be a case of a sovereign nation deciding with whom it wants to make trade partners -- but with potentially an enormous positive affect.
Without the United States as a source of revenue, the Castristas in Caracas might be forced to move away from its repressing policies and back to a more tolerant system of government, saving democracy and liberating millions of people.
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