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State of Emergency Is the Beginning of the End for Venezuela

By: Sabrina Martín - @SabrinaMartinR - Sep 9, 2015, 7:49 am
Jorge Tricás says Maduro's militarism has created a volatile relationship between Venezuela and Colombia.
Tricás says Maduro’s militarism has created a volatile relationship between Venezuela and Colombia. (Mundo Oriental)

Español“We formally ask [President Maduro] to add more regions to the state of emergency and border closure, for the well-being of our people,” Venezuelan National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello said on August 25.

His words have since had the Venezuelan public on edge, since a state of emergency implies the suspension of some constitutional rights. According to Colombian authorities, the Venezuela has already deported more than 1,100 Colombian citizens living near the border.

Jorge Tricás, a Venezuelan political scientist and professor at Andrés Bello Catholic University, tells the PanAm Post that Maduro’s decision to close the border signals the “absurdity of a desperate government.” While the measure remains limited to certain states, Tricás believes a nationwide state of emergency could lead to “the destruction of the country.”

What is behind the Venezuelan government’s state of emergency and border closures?

One line of thinking is that support for the government has dropped and they’ve lost the public’s approval. According to the polls — which aren’t very reliable, since polls only give you a snapshot — there is every indication that the ruling party could lose in the parliamentary elections in December. While this doesn’t imply a regime change, it would still be a significant blow.

There is a maxim in politics that external threats create unity, so they could be playing the nationalist card. The government could be thinking that this measure will bring domestic solidarity and strengthen its power and image.

This regime has had totalitarian practices for a while, before with the Chávez administration and now with Maduro. Marking the homes of Colombians on the border, stigmatizing these people as if they are evil incarnate, resembles what the Nazis did when they deported and relocated Jews.

This government increasingly opts for totalitarian policies every day, with nasty and dangerous practices. These are desperate measures taken by a drowning government.

The government is playing with fire; they don’t know what they’re doing. Hopefully they will come to their senses, though these people have no sense. Hopefully they will consider other variables, and things will not get out of hand.

Why would the government make these decisions a few months before the election?

Well, another line of thinking is that the government could institute a state of emergency in order to suspend the upcoming elections. This would benefit them, since a delay with the elections would give them time to try to correct their wrongs.

They repeatedly blame paramilitarism and bachaqueros (smugglers), but these are overused labels. They likely do cause harm, but this is not the underlying problem at the border, since bachaqueros are present throughout the country.

The underlying issue is that this is being treated like a game. It’s nonsense, and we will have to pay the cost. This doesn’t look good; it’s a political and diplomatic blunder that reveals a troubled regime.

What do you mean by “this doesn’t look good?”

Let’s hope I’m wrong, because the outlook isn’t good. They could make either a diplomatic or militaristic mistake, and an armed conflict could result from it. Colombia is a much more established state; the country has institutions, separation of powers, and they won’t just let anything slide from this side.

Conflict, armed or not, is not convenient for anyone, but we could be heading towards conflict along the border between the two countries.

Colombia knows how to react at any given moment; they wouldn’t hesitate for one moment. And neither would these maniacs, the [Venezuelan] government.

Will this not worsen Venezuela’s international image?

Yes, but don’t forget that institutions like the Organization of American States (OAS) or the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) that could take charge and speak out on this type of thing, don’t have the authority to enact [meaningful] measures.

All that’s left is international disrepute and bad press. But this [country] has had bad press for almost 15 years, and no one has done anything. The entire world turns a blind eye. If Venezuelans don’t fix the problems inside our own country, nobody else is going to come do it for us.

Could the government be planning to declare a state of emergency across the entire country?

Of course, a state of emergency for the whole country would mean infringing on human rights — an assault on our rights.

If we look at history, we find that Joseph Stalin, who was of the worst criminals humanity has ever encountered, would purge society every four or five years. He would invent a threat, so he could murder millions of Bolsheviks and wipe them out for his own benefit. This is what’s happening here.

A state of emergency could result in a great purge to do away with anything that’s in their way, so their totalitarian regime can continue its reign.

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Perhaps in four or five months, you won’t be able to call me for these sorts of interviews any more, because chances are you won’t be able to work, and they won’t allow me to speak.

It is extremely dangerous; it’s an emergency as the name implies, and in an emergency, anything is possible.

In politics, reality always takes us a step further than our imaginations. Steven Spielberg himself could not foresee what might happen here in a state of emergency, given the people in charge, our society, and the unrest among the public. There’s a war going on, and the country is split in two.

A state of emergency would mean damning the country to hell; it means total destruction 99 percent of the time.

We don’t want this. We want peace, sanity, and good judgement, and that the border be a place for sympathy, friendship, and exchange.

I hope, for all our sakes, that my predictions don’t come true.

Translated by Rachel Rodriguez.

Sabrina Martín Sabrina Martín

Sabrina Martín is a Venezuelan journalist, commentator, and editor based in Valencia with experience in corporate communication. Follow @SabrinaMartinR.