Pending legislation calling for U.S. President Barack Obama to impose sanctions against key Venezuelan officials is unlikely to defuse the ongoing crisis there and could prove counter-productive, according to both the administration and independent experts here.
This much is known: at least 33 people are dead and 461 have been wounded. The rest – questions of who, why and what next for Venezuela – has largely been a matter of speculation.
Fifteen dead, dozens injured, some 500 arrested and denunciations of torture, illegal repression by security forces and irregular groups and attacks on the press are the fruits of over two weeks of political confrontation in the streets of some 30 Venezuelan cities.
Violence on the streets of Venezuela, with anti-government protests in the capital and 12 other cities, is a sign of hardening stances by both the government and its opponents as President Nicolás Maduro takes a trial-and-error approach to the economy in crisis.
A Venezuelan government decree to control information and “internal and external enemy activity” appeals to concepts of the national security doctrine, which various right-wing military dictatorships in Latin America invoked in the 1970s and 1980s.
The United States has expelled Venezuela's chargé d'affaires and two other diplomats in Washington in reprisal for the expulsion of three U.S. diplomats from Caracas, both countries said late Tuesday.
The crisis in Venezuela caused by the violent opposition of followers of Henrique Capriles, who is accusing President Nicolás Maduro of election fraud, and peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrillas in Havana, are occupying the attention of national and foreign media.
The challenge for Venezuela is to strengthen democracy, and for its new president, Nicolás Maduro, it is to overcome a potential recall referendum and to further the interests of his political supporters, Marcelo Serpa, of the Latin American Association of Election Campaign Researchers (ALICE), told IPS.
Nicolás Maduro was recognised as president-elect of Venezuela by a Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) emergency summit held in Lima to discuss the situation in the highly polarised country, where a narrow electoral result triggered social and political tension.
When the left was in opposition in Latin America, it never tired of repeating that true democracy was not limited to electing governments at the ballot box. Democracy was also needed in the distribution of rights and riches.
Noisy pot-banging protests broke out in Venezuela’s cities to demand a recount of the votes from Sunday’s presidential elections, which leftwing candidate Nicolás Maduro won. Several people have been killed in violent incidents.
The political polarisation in Venezuela became even more marked as the country emerged from Sunday’s elections basically divided in half, between two sectors that are antagonistic and reluctant to try to understand each other.
Venezuelans will cast their ballots this Sunday to elect a successor to late president Hugo Chávez. The choice is between his political heir Nicolás Maduro – the front-runner in the polls - and the leader of the revitalised opposition, Henrique Capriles.
The São Paulo Forum, which groups leftist political parties and organisations of Latin America and the Caribbean, sees a victory by Venezuela’s acting President Nicolás Maduro in the Apr. 14 elections as key to the future of the left in the region, and to “containing the right”.
While the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama says it would like to improve relations with Venezuela in the aftermath of the death Tuesday of President Hugo Chávez, officials and independent analysts here believe any rapprochement will take time and faces political obstacles both here and in Caracas.