As Juan Guaido and Leopoldo Lopez lead an armed uprising against the Maduro dictatorship today, from the La Carlota military base in eastern Caracas, it is important to remember a sad, but fundamental truth.
Freedom is never free…it never has been. Half of the world still lives under the tyranny of Islamist, Marxist, socialist, and Communist regimes…unsurprisingly…those are the regimes (Russia, China, Cuba, Bolivia, Turkey, Nicaragua, North Korea, Iran, Syria)…that are backing the murderous tyrant Maduro, whose goal is to remain in power in Venezuela as dictator for life.
Today…sadly, many Venezuelans will have to die, if they plan to recuperate their freedom.
The Venezuelan people made a terrible mistake in electing Hugo Chavez, and they have now seen the disastrous effects of 20 years of socialism: a decade of economic collapse, the trampling of democratic freedoms, the disappearance of freedom of speech and an independent press, the infiltration of Cuban intelligence services into every level of Venezuelan society as Maduro has turned the nation into a police state, and finally, the arrival of heavily armed Russian troops to serve as Maduro’s personal body guard.
Russia and China will continue to back Maduro until enough of the Venezuelan military realizes the futility of their current leadership, that they turn on him. It is too early to determine whether today will be that day.
We frequently hear from a wide contingent of political voices in the United States and the international community that we should leave the situation in Venezuela in the hands of the Venezuelan people. Maduro has rallied his international lackeys under the hashtag “Hands Off Venezuela.”
Yet, it is readily apparent that the Venezuelan people are resoundingly united in their opposition to the Communist dictatorship. Any Venezuelan observer notes that 90% of Venezuelans are anti-Maduro, even if they are not necessarily supporters of “the opposition”, or one of its factions. Sadly, the only Venezuelans who support Maduro are those who have the guns: whether they belong to Chavista terrorist “colectivos” or the official Venezuelan Armed Forces.
Maduro has given large sectors of the economy to top military brass; nothing is more lucrative than control of drug trafficking and illegal mining, as well as the nation’s single large scale industry of petroleum production. They have no incentive to abandon Maduro, as they will lose their fortunes, and face criminal charges.
There are now emerging reports that the head of Venezuela’s intelligence services, the SEBIN, Manuel Christopher Figuera, is coordinating the military component of Operation Libertad, as Guaido and Lopez have termed today’s uprising. If that is the case, it is an encouraging sign for the opposition.
Government official Gerardo Marquez, stated in a radio interview, that Figuera “is the one that is practically running the operation…now he is in hiding and surely in the next few hours he will be captured the same as anyone who has tried to violate the rule of law and the Constitution,” said Marquez, who claimed the rebellion had been put down.
The fate of 30 million Venezuelans now lies in the hands of the Venezuelan people. The Venezuelan military is the only catalyst that could ultimately spur Maduro’s exit today.
He will likely seek asylum in Cuba, Russia, or China (as Diosdado Cabello’s children recently did). There is also a wild card option: Maduro and top Chavista officials could seek refuge in Mexico, given shelter by new leftist president AMLO.
Regardless of what happens today…this represents the greatest challenge to Maduro’s authority in his miserable six year presidency, and is likely to spur widespread crackdown within the ranks of the Venezuelan military, as well as further challenges to Maduro’s disputed authority.
David Unsworth is a Boston native. He received degrees in History and Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis, and subsequently spent five years working in real estate development in New York City. Currently he resides in Bogota, Colombia, where he is involved in the tourism industry. In his free time he enjoys singing in rock bands, travelling throughout Latin America, and studying Portuguese.