The political temperature in Venezuela seems firmly set on boil as social unrest fails to translate into any kind of political change. To make matters worse, elements of the Venezuela’s national police force led by “Oscar Perez,” dropped grenades from a helicopter on the Supreme Court – none of which exploded. The event no doubt drew the interests of many, including both anti-Chavista popular forces as well as the Maduro government. Who is Oscar Perez, what was the purpose of the attack, and was it even real?
The largely lifeless assault carried out by Oscar Perez failed to produce any results, beyond the spectacular. Gun shots were fired at the National Assembly and grenades were dropped on the Supreme Court – but no one was either killed or injured. Cell phone footage reveals civilians captivated by the extraordinary aerial maneuvers of the helicopter. Meanwhile, Oscar Perez and his outfit have seemingly disappeared. More than anything, the attack appears to come out of a page of Garcia Marquez’s works.
On all accounts – less the spectacular and the psychological – the attack failed. For an outfit comprised of anti-chavista police and military forces that claim to be backed by “civilians,” they seem mostly incapable. That none of the grenades exploded should draw even more suspicion.
No doubt, a great deal of speculation has surrounded Oscar Perez and his flight over Caracas. However, there should be little doubt that this is likely a ploy organized by the Maduro government. Maduro used it as cover to further consolidate power by stripping powers from attorney general and Luisa Ortega – a previous supporter of Maduro turned opponent – and then giving them to Tarek William Saab, as well as a means to blame the attack on the CIA and continue to paint popular demonstrators and dissident social sectors as completely being products of foreign intervention. To make matters worse, that same day Maduro claimed that if any kind of coup were attempted (armed or otherwise), Bolivarian forces and supporters would not hesitate in responding in a similar manner. The likelihood of civil war draws ever closer.
Looking back at history, civil wars most often develop out of the exhausted means of democratic processes. If democratic avenues no longer function, if the state cannot incorporate the demands of popular forces, and if repression is incapable of sending people back to their homes in complacency, then the tide of revolutionary fervor can only rise to the point that it can no longer be generally contained and violent means thus become the only option to transform an unbearable condition that has become generalized. This speaks for both left-wing and right-wing uprisings. The unwillingness of the British Crown to concede democratic rights to the colonies led to rise of the Continental Army. Marie Antionette’s dictum that the peasants should eat cake led to the rise of the Jacobins. The Tsar of Russia responded in similar fashion and it lead to the February revolution. The Batista dictatorship’s repression and political impasse led to the 26th of July Movement. The Arab Spring faithfully followed the same trajectory.
If Maduro is incapable of allowing change and continues to respond through means brute repression, and if this repression can be conceived as a generalized problem for most – then we can place our wagers on the outbreak of civil war.
Re-posted from the blog of Interpoint Global Security www.interpointglobal.com