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Column 042913 Brewer

Monday, April 29, 2013

Post Election Woes in Venezuela include Violence and Death

By Jerry Brewer

Over 78 percent of Venezuelans went to the polls earlier this month, on April 14th, to choose a new leader to replace the late President Hugo Chavez. Nearly 50 percent of the voters sought to make a huge change in political direction to rid themselves and their nation from over a decade of misery, aggressive government controls, and corruption.

And the final vote count has been met with cries of foul and fraud from not only the anti-Nicolas Maduro/Chavez regime, but also by many from the international community.

With an estimated difference of the posted final results of 235,000 votes -- 50.7% for Nicolas Maduro to 49.1% for Henrique Capriles -- the opposition is demanding a recount. Capriles has aggressively and bravely led the charge, at much risk to himself amongst threats to have him arrested and imprisoned for simply demanding fairness and justice.

Blood has been shed on the Venezuelan homeland with a current estimate of nine deaths and 78 injured. Many argue and are posting within blogs from Venezuela that the numbers far exceed those government estimates. Social sites such as You Tube, as well as blogs are showing graphic video and still shots of shootings by Venezuelan authorities and pro-Maduro supporters.

One graphically shows what are described as national guard members on a motorcycle shooting an unarmed young man and killing him. This from a covert photographer on a rooftop. Another shows uniformed officials running up the street and into a fenced-in residence and shooting at an unarmed family within their own private compound. Photographs being circulated show atrocities of graphic carnage of bullet wounds, people being dragged by military and police officials, and related beatings in the street.

Government officials, through government sites, reported that "after the governing body (National Electoral Council) issued the results, there were calls made through social media and networks like Twitter, by direct and subliminal messages, encouraging citizens to take street actions. Hostile actions and contrary to the law, which led a sector of the public to attack another sector of the population."

A statement by the Attorney General, in the area called La Limonera, Baruta municipality, Miranda state, reported "two deaths occurred when a group of people linked to the opposition, in a hostile and violent manner, hindered free vehicular traffic." Much of the government versions describe the opposition as firing at the pro-government Chavistas. Two children (11 and 12) in the parish of Antonio Borjas Romero of the Maracaibo municipality, Zulia state, were also killed in the violence.

With an apparent strategy by pro-Capriles supporters to circumvent the tight media constraints against the Venezuelan homeland that were perpetuated by Hugo Chavez's iron fisted rule and continue under Maduro, many have taken to exposing the truths of what they are witnessing by using cellular phones (with video and still photography) and posting to international social sites.

Borrowing a page from the late Hugo Chavez's propaganda doctrine that he adopted from his mentor, Cuba's Fidel Castro, Maduro quickly blamed and accused the US CIA of being complicit in anti-Maduro shenanigans. In fact, President Maduro warned of more to come, and announced an arrest.

"We have captured an American who was financing violent groups. I have ordered the arrest of this man and we will try him. I have ordered the interior minister to arrest anyone seen in the video he filmed and any person involved in fascist violence against Venezuela." The man has been identified as Timothy Tracy, and he is being accused of espionage.

Tracy (35) is reportedly from California. Friends and family of Tracy told the Associated Press that he has been in Venezuela "since last year making a documentary about the confrontation between the opposition and a socialist government that is struggling to maintain its once-high popularity after the death of charismatic President Hugo Chavez."

Venezuela's interior minister accused Tracy of working on behalf of U.S. intelligence, "paying right-wing youth groups to hold violent demonstrations in order to destabilize the country after Maduro's narrow election win."

Hugo Chavez frequently accused the US of trying to invade Venezuela, as well as assassinate him, to justify the massive squandering of Venezuelan's oil wealth on Russian weapons and military hardware, among other waste and abuse of Venezuela's financial coffers.

What remains in this contested presidential election in Venezuela is a deep ideological divide that questions the legitimacy of Maduro's regime before a world audience demanding transparency and fairness.

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Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation firm headquartered in northern Virginia. His website is located at www.cjiausa.org.


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