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Taking stock of Venezuela crisis

The last couple of days have been kind of extraordinary, in the sense that some of chavismo's big dogs have come unhinged. First we saw Jose Vielma Mora, Governor of Tachira state where protests began, criticising President Maduro in a radio interview. Vielma Mora said he was against the brutal way in which protesters have been repressed, and added that he disagreed with keeping political prisoner Ivan Simonovis and opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez in jail (both on trumped charges). We then saw President of Congress, Diosdado Cabello, come on TV to lie about an alleged weapons cache that General Angel Vivas had in his house. Readers may recall the tense standoff when security forces tried to arrest (on what charges?) Gen. Vivas. But we also saw Cabello making an open threat to one of the most corrupt chavista bankers: BANESCO's Juan Carlos Escotet.

Yesterday, Venezuela's Foreign Secretary, Elias Jaua, a thug whose violent track record goes all the way back to his student days, snapped in quite dramatic fashion in front of the cameras, in reaction to a simple question from a journalist. Jaua was parroting the official line that has it, without having presented a single shred of evidence, that Colombia's former President Alvaro Uribe is behind the student protests in Venezuela.

Then Maduro is reportedly proposing France-born Max Sanchez Arvelaez as his Ambassador to the U.S. Read, Maduro does not really want to have an Ambassador in the U.S., as one would expect the U.S. is well aware of the sort of 'diplomacy' that Arvelaez practices.

But the icing comes from Minister of Education, Hector Rodriguez, who is so deranged, that without qualms he declared: "no es que vamos a sacar a la gente de la pobreza para llevarlas a la clase media y que pretendan ser escuálidos". Translation: "we are not going to take people out of poverty into middle class so they turn against us".

The above indicates that chavismo is hurting. Deeply. Despite widespread use of excessive force and torture it hasn't been able to quell student protests. Quite the contrary in fact. Chavismo has failed miserably at controlling and censoring a torrent of information and evidence of abuses that continues to pour out into social media. Its ever shrinking brigade of international apologists is so discredited, in the face of conflicting interests and public evidence, that no one takes them seriously. Social media has become the source in Venezuela, where events are reported in real time by hundreds of thousands of users across the country. Diosdado's lies were exposed in it, as well as the identity of the National Guard who gave a vicious beating to an unarmed protester. An army of Twitter users are countering very effectively indeed the official communicational hegemony.

Worringly, influential news outlets have started describing students protests in the country as the domain of "conservative" kids (here's looking at you BBC). To those who discovered Venezuela only a couple of weeks ago, and are bent on projecting racism and political prejudices on the situation, let me just leave with this little factoid to ponder on: chavismo has never won a general election in Venezuelan universities. Ever. Since 1998. In other words, where the voting is manual (rather than with Smartmatic / official electoral body), chavismo is yet to win one election, of either authorities or students bodies in universities across Venezuela.

PS: AP reports that Jimmy Carter is willing to act as mediator in Venezuela's current crisis. Carter was involved in a similar role in 2004, when he lied to all and sundry about recall referendum results. Venezuelans know how his previous 'mediation' ended, with the infamous and not-so-secret meeting with Gustavo Cisneros and Hugo Chavez. Today's dramatic situation could actually be traced to those heady days of August 2004.