Removing Nicolas Maduro from office won’t ease the country’s misery, not least because the most important component of this oligarchy is the Cuban regime, analyst Moisés Naím writes for The Atlantic:
And Cuba’s leaders know how to keep their Venezuelan allies in power—namely by exporting their own successful military-control strategies to Venezuela. Cubans have perfected the techniques of the police state at home: constant but selective repression, extortion and bribery, espionage, and persecution. Above all, the Cuban regime knows how to protect itself from a military coup: That is the main threat to any dictatorship, so controlling the armed forces is an indispensable requirement for a self-respecting dictator.
At a historic news conference on Wednesday, Venezuela’s Chief of Public Prosecutions, Luisa Ortega Díaz, broke ranks with the propaganda state [after a soldier shot pro-democracy protester Juan Pablo Pernalete], writes Francisco Toro, executive editor of the Caracas Chronicles. Her office had investigated Pernalete’s death, and now she laid out the evidence that made it perfectly clear that he had been killed by the National Guard, he writes for The Washington Post.
Civil society has documented the excessive force used by the security forces against demonstrators, including the disproportionate use of tear gas, some even in residential areas and other closed spaces, such as shopping malls and universities, CIVICUS reports:
There have also been reports of armed, pro-government civilians attacking and intimidating demonstrators, and in some cases trying to raid residences to harass and intimidate protesters. Such illegal activities have been documented since 2014…. Venezuelan civil society organisation (CSO) – Foro Penal Venezolano – reported that 1,668 people were arrested during the protests in April alone. At least 517 were released without charge.
As protests grow increasingly violent, strapped security officers say they’re exhausted, misused and demoralized, Anatoly Kurmanaev writes for The Wall Street Journal.
Cuba—in stumbling across Venezuela—happened upon one of the most unprecedented gifts in the annals of geopolitics, adds Naím, author of The End of Power and a former board member of the National Endowment for Democracy:
Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chavez, the president of a petro state who happily invited a bankrupt dictatorship to exert enormous influence in some of his country’s vital functions, from elections, economic policy, and politics to, of course, military and citizen surveillance. Cuban “advisers” were deployed at critical government agencies and soon started vetoing the decisions of the Venezuelan officials and in some instances imposing their views. The Venezuelans who resisted them were transferred or fired.