As the crisis in Venezuela continues, talk of the issues escalating into civil war is becoming less far fetched by the day. And certainly, there are plenty of international oars being stuck into the pot – Donald Trump’s in particular. The reality for most of us, however, is that no matter what the news is saying, it’s impossible to get a grip on what is happening on the ground, whichever side you think is in the right.
There is another reality, though – rebel forces are growing, and the kindling for war needs only the slightest spark for things to ignite. Plus, now that President Maduro has won an election, even if you agree with the likes of Smartmatic who claim the ballot was tampered with, the simple fact is that once that constitution is rewritten, it will be challenging to defeat the current leader next time around.
With all this in mind, it’s hardly surprising the election itself was boycotted by the opposition. Given they see it as a phoney election – and with the likes of the United States starting to make less diplomatic noises from the north – it seems sensible that they are doing all they can to avoid legitimizing Maduro and his party. Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and Canada are all throwing their two cents-worth, too, so a waiting game is probably the most useful option.
But for anyone that thinks a rebellion and civil war will see a return to a thriving Venezuela, there are a few troubling questions to answer. First of all, why is President Trump taking so much interest in Venezuela right now? And why are we seeing so much about it on the news? Yes, the reports appear to be damaging for the Maduro government, but we are most definitely seeing a one-sided picture. Many other dictators around the world are going about their business in a much more violent manner, to citizens and political opponents alike, with little to no rebuke in the mainstream news. In fact, some of them have been getting arms deals while the likes of Venezuela get sanctions.
Also, there is little talk of who these rebels really are, who they are being backed by, and what their intentions are. And the reality is that when democracies – however shambolic those democracies are – fall, they are generally replaced with something far worse.
President Maduro doesn’t deserve much sympathy, of course, given the huge mistakes the government have made which have resulted in appalling economic performance. And there is no excuse for the kind of bloodshed and violence allegedly carried out by the government. But for the Venezuelan people who will, no doubt, be severely hurt by a civil war, may not be any better off after one, even if Maduro is overthrown. And there are plenty of others with blood on their hands, too, not just government forces and supporters. Should these rebels find themselves in power one day in the not-too-distant future, one wonders what that power might look like.