By Clodovaldo Hernández – Jul 30, 2022
Justified labor protests that are no longer very small, and several cases that show the infiltration of drug trafficking in high political positions: these are two of the warning lights that have recently been lit on the government dashboard. Or, at least, that’s how it looks from a safe distance.
Are these symptoms to worry about? Undoubtedly, as much as there are signs of national recovery and as terrible as the situation of the opposition is, it would be a serious mistake to believe that everything is going from strength to strength and on full sail, that the material threats of instability have ceased and, worse still, that the 2024 presidential race is going to be a piece of cake.
Let’s take a look at the context. Suppose you are the pilot of a huge plane that has been shot at for a long time with all kinds of shrapnels and missiles. The fact of having survived such ferocious attacks makes you feel invulnerable, capable of continuing to fly indefinitely. But that positive feeling does not mean that all risk has ceased. Above all, it does not mean that if you—confident due to your previous achievements—convince yourself that whatever you do, you will always come out of these spells victorious and, therefore, ignore the warning lights and alarm bells.
Let’s transfer this metaphor to national politics to tell President Nicolás Maduro (and to whom it may concern) that although he has been very skillful at weathering storms and resisting aggression, he has to be a good pilot in times of relative calm also and heed the warnings that appear very clearly on the dashboard.
The ONAPRE conflict
On the main screen of the cockpit, the most intense warning light that has come on is that of a salary policy that has the characteristics of a Trojan virus inserted into the Revolution’s flight system by a cunning enemy.
A hitherto almost anonymous body, the National Budget Office (ONAPRE) has capitalized on the rejection of public sector workers, particularly those of the hard-hit areas of health and education.
Regardless of the fact that some political factions are using this discontent to try to fish in troubled waters, an evident fact is that the demands have a very real basis. These are people who earn very little, who have had a hard time during the years of the blockade and the pandemic and, to complete the picture, say that they have now been denied part of their payments corresponding to work claims as sacred as vacations.
And this decision has been taken just in this year 2022, when so much has been said about signs of recovery and of a country that is beginning to fix itself. Just when the opposition seems so shocked by the changes in stance of their gringo bosses.
The reaction of those who believe they are effectively defending the government in this episode has been to identify those who protest as political enemies, with that opposition that has done so much damage to the country. But that point of view is one of those who fall under their own weight, because they are wage earners who have been deprived of a part of their income, and against this any worker would react angrily, irrespective of whether they are a member of any anti-Chavista party or not.
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Some people think that the underlying problem is one of communication. The government took the measure without explanations and it generated a conflictive response. This may be so, but this error is not going to be corrected by stigmatizing those who have come out to protest. On the contrary, it would be necessary to call the union leaders immediately to offer them the relevant explanations and seek ways of conciliation.
Some will say that this should not be done because those union leaders belong to this or that party or to this or that dissident group, and sitting down with them at a dialogue table would be giving them too much of a platform. From my point of view, it is not convenient for any government to think like this, least of all one headed by someone who was a labor leader of the hard left when the social democratic or social Christian right governed Venezuela.
The fact that union protests are taking place is a double warning signal for the Revolution. On the one hand—as has already been pointed out—because there is real basis of the complaints. On the other, because it exposes the breach opened up between the red union leadership and the working masses.
Another warning light for Chavismo that has repeatedly appeared is the one that indicates the presence of organized crime in national and regional political circles.
Until now, two deputies have resigned from their elected positions, Jeycar Pérez, in February, and María Yanitza Bogado, this week. Both came to the National Assembly (AN) as part of the alliance of the PSUV with the evangelical party ORA. By resigning, the two saved themselves from having their parliamentary immunity canceled by the AN, as happened with Taína González, a member of the PSUV. All three have court cases against them, for drug crimes.
There is a fourth deputy, the one with the highest hierarchy without a doubt, the former Minister of Indigenous Peoples Aloha Núñez, who is suspended from her position in the AN, from the Venezuelan representation in international parliamentary entities and from her functions within the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. She is considered responsible (in the best of cases due to lack of supervision) for what happened with deputy Taína González and with Mayor Keyrineth Fernández of Jesús María Semprún municipality in Zulia state, who was captured red-handed with a cache of cocaine. “She is ostracized, but she is not imprisoned,” said a parliamentary source confidentially, since the case of Núñez has been handled with extreme discretion.
The fact that these people are removed from office and three of them prosecuted in court is a good example of what should always happen. In this way, a message is sent to those who are in the wrong path that their criminal activities will be totally exposed.
Some versions indicate that the names of at least three more parliamentarians could appear in the coming days.
In another matter related to the nexus of politics and crime, it has been reported that Deputy Peter Sayago, belonging to the Tupamaro party and from Anzoátegui state, is allegedly involved in the murder of the Bolivarian National Police officer Jesús Bolívar Briceño which occurred in Maracay. It is alleged that the deputy has ties with the El Asdrúbal gang, which is a part of the infamous criminal organization Tren de Aragua.
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Deputy Sayago, who was also injured in the incident, is accused of having alerted the criminals about the imminent arrival of the police commission. The vehicle from which he shot at the police was carrying (according to an unofficial version) weapons destined for the Tocorón prison, one of the “headquarters” of Tren de Aragua.
The alarm that has been activated in these cases speaks of the penetration of drug trafficking and other criminal organizations in Venezuelan politics, a phenomenon that has wreaked havoc in several countries of Our America, including our immediate neighbor, Colombia, which has been spreading its disastrous effects on this side of the border for several decades. And a phenomenon about which several renowned national voices (Luis Britto García, Miguel Ángel Pérez Pirela, Iraida Vargas, Mario Sanoja Obediente, Sergio Rodríguez Gelfenstein, among others) have cried out in the desert for years.
Beyond the police reports on the modus operandi of the officials who are part of these networks, political intelligence work is needed to listen to the communities and detect the very revealing behavior of those who have entered the circle of narco-politics and mega-gangs.
PSUV candidates for parliamentary, regional and local elections were selected in primaries. Already in that initial instance, suspicious behavior of some applicants was noted: waste of resources, signs of excess wealth, suspicious relationships with obscure characters. In some cases (as the passage of time has shown) these signals were ignored, facilitating the infiltrators to achieve their goals.
It is up to the PSUV to go in depth in this process of investigating the entire network of complicities, starting from a very simple hypothesis: the narco-deputies, the narco-mayors are not isolated characters, but instead are connected with other officials (civilian, military and police) corrupted by money from criminal organizations.
Checkered Western Leadership
Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are currently two of the most prominent world leaders, not only because of their personal abilities, but also because of the almost caricatured mediocrity of their rivals in the so-called West.
Joe Biden is already a living meme, for all his strange adventures as a senile man and for the shameful record of his son, Hunter. Josep Borrell walks around the corners crying because Lavrov appears more and looks better in the press than him, despite the censorship against Russian media. Macron has the impudence to criticize colonialism—Russian, of course—during his visit to African countries historically colonized and looted by France. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, after leading his country into a destructive NATO proxy war, takes a break from his supposed duties as commander-in-chief to take photos with his wife for Vogue fashion magazine. And, when it seemed difficult to beat the previous ones in this competition of nonsense and more nonsense, Pedro Sánchez appears and says that his contribution to European energy saving policy consists in stopping wearing a tie… What a waste of intelligence!
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
Venezuelan journalist and writer. He writes regularly for La IguanaTV, Supuesto Negado, and Mision Verdad.
Clodovaldo Hernández#molongui-disabled-linkSeptember 4, 2022
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