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Venezuela still simmers

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Stabroek News – Contrary to what we posited in our editorial last Friday, that authoritarian regimes generally view making concessions, including being brought to the dialogue table, as a sign of weakness, the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, affirmed that same day that the Peace Conference launched by President Nicolás Maduro was not “a sign of weakness.” Opinion is, however, divided on the sincerity of the commitment of the Venezuelan government to the dialogue process and how effective it will be. And even with the massive distraction of the commemoration of the first anniversary of President Hugo Chávez’s death on Wednesday, the street protests continue and Venezuela still simmers. Nonetheless, President Maduro can claim some moral high ground in leading a national dialogue, especially as the opposition itself is divided on the strategy to pursue. The man who initiated the protests, Leopoldo López, has been imprisoned but remains defiant and wedded to the idea of a “peaceful struggle” to bring down the elected government of President Maduro. This is a path fraught with risk, as more protest action can only lead to more violence and bloodshed and effectively plays into the hands of Mr Maduro, who can mobilise the not inconsiderable chavista popular base simply by accusing the opposition of launching a “fascist coup” with US support.

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