A turmoil of civil disobedience and street violence
The enemies of Chavez do not doubt to break the law on their aim to force President to resign. After the Government made announcements towards the normalization of the oil industry with the help of Brazilian and Caribbean cargoes, rebels moved to a new plan of civil disobedience.
The opposition, once more, defied the Government and called citizens not to pay taxes to cripple country's weakened finances. This measure benefits the private sector of the industry (largest corporations, mainly) and the middle class.
However in the long run, it will strain the lower classes, which depends on basic public services to survive as schools and hospitals. This new stage in the five weeks open battle confirms the permanent division of Venezuela's society between those who enjoy private medical assistance and education and those who don't.
To support this attitude, thousands gathered at public buildings gates to stop the activity of the public administration. At the same time, outside the attorney general's office in central Caracas, Chavez sympathizers clamored for an inquiry into the deaths of two government supporters who were shot on Friday in chaotic street battles involving police, troops and rival protesters. Chavez still has the support of a 35% - 40% of the population, country's poorest families.
"We are on the brink of madness and we need to take a step backwards," Foreign Minister Roy Chaderton told reporters. Chavez, in turn, called "tax payee rebels" "traitors" and "terrorists" and accused them of criminal actions as threat the State activity.
The bitter conflict between Chavez and his opponents has sharpened during the 5-week-old strike that has plunged the world's No. 5 oil exporter into political and economic turmoil. Last week, clashes left two Chavez's supporters dead and dozens wounded.
Chavez has blamed the killings on police officers serving one of his fiercest enemies,Caracas Mayor Alfredo Pena. But the president's foes, who allege Chavez has armed his followers, accused pro-government militants of opening fire.
As OAS Chairman Cesar Gaviria says talks resume look almost impossible, negotiation alternative seems to be far away from reality. Analysts say a new escalation of violence is expected and the most radical of them started warning on an imminent civil war. 3
Hernan Etchaleco PRAVDA.Ru Argentina
Photo (El Nacional): one of the daily protests in Caracas. Whether pro or anti-Chavez, it does not care too much.
In a weary world of endless US military interventions, sanctions, trade tariffs and chaos, let’s pause and take stock of the shining house on the hill