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Column 021714 Brewer

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Cuban Model versus a Burgeoning Opposition in Venezuela

By Jerry Brewer

Much like the frustrations faced by citizens of Cuba opposing and wanting to unseat the oppressive Castro regime in their homeland, Venezuelans went much further last week in a bold and aggressive display of unity to demonstrate their desire for immediate change.

Unlike most true democracies and transparent governments, President Nicolas Maduro’s leftist regimen was quick to borrow a page out of Fidel Castro’s nearly 50 year iron-fisted repertoire of closing down the media and communications to censor violent enforcement actions from an inquiring free world.

Yet those archaic, sinister and tyrannical methods were not enough to silence thousands of youthful students and other once proud Venezuelans from demanding a full redress of their grievances.  Moreover, the Maduro administration's suppression did not escape the social media and some news services.

Serious violence, beatings and killings were graphically demonstrated, some showing a barbaric cadre of police and other security officials retaliating in lieu of utilizing prevention strategies and exercising restraint.

The social media, that included videos and pictures by citizens, captured the violence in several cities from concealed locations that included rooftops, balconies, and other vantage points that offered some safety from attack.  However, Venezuelan security officials monitoring the leaks to the world acted quickly.

On Friday, Twitter advised that the Venezuelan government had blocked images on their service following anti-government protests that turned bloody, and offered an alternative for those who wanted to get their messages and bloody pictures out via cellular phones.

There were reports of hackers defacing and knocking various government websites offline, and “organizing and choreographing online denial-of-service attacks” that flood sites with traffic, making them temporarily untouchable. Twitter spokesman Nu Wexler said Friday, via email and in response to an Associated Press inquiry, that "Twitter images are currently blocked in Venezuela."

There were video and still images circulated via Twitter after several killings that appeared to depict police and pro-government activists shooting at protesters. The socialist Venezuelan government closely dominates the nation’s airwaves. International media also faced harassment as police smashed and confiscated cameras. Venezuela's government also suspended broadcasting inside the nation on Wednesday night of the “regional news channel NTN24, claiming it was trying to incite citizens to overthrow the government.”

Bill Woodcock, research director at the nonprofit Packet Clearing House, said Venezuela has "a pretty tight control over the Internet compared to other countries. Not as tight as Cuba, but probably tighter than anybody else." The San Francisco-based researcher said Venezuela is in “some ways more restrictive than China.”

There should be little doubt to the free world that the late President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, was -- and is -- responsible for the misery and devastation suffered in the once oil rich country. With that destruction went Venezuela’s pride. The citizens were duped.

In October 2000, then President Chavez signed a pact with Fidel Castro agreeing to supply a third of Cuba’s petroleum needs in return for Cuban help in training teachers and developing curricula for “Bolivarian” schools.  As well, and even with Venezuela’s high unemployment rate, reports indicated that Chavez gave jobs to Cuban doctors, sports coaches, and intelligence officers. 

Chavez was no stranger to the circle of terror networks lurking and conspiring to do harm to the western hemisphere.  In 2001 Chavez paid presidential state visits to Iran, Iraq, and Libya.  Fidel Castro was quick to follow his protégé with visits to Syria, Libya, and Iran.  Chavez signed cooperation agreements with Saddam Hussein, Muammar Qaddafi, and Iran's ruling mullahs          

Hugo Chavez sold his soul to Fidel Castro and Castro’s revolution, which became Venezuela’s revolution under the Chavez rule. In the face of a watchful free world, in June 2005 Chavez seemed to enjoy a photo opportunity in western Cuba as he rode in an open jeep with Fidel Castro, both wearing military fatigues and saluting a citizenry waving Cuban and Venezuelan flags.  Chavez’s Bolivarian Revolution continued with Castro as his self-claimed mentor that also resulted in the two enjoying a photo-op in Argentina the following month in 2005, at the boyhood home of the murderous revolutionary Che Guevara.

The Castro and Chavez tours were eye opening to those that paid attention.

History shows that Cuba’s past dependence on Russian/Soviet markets and military aid allowed Castro to build a formidable military force.  The Soviet KGB helped Castro with tight Communist Party control over all levels of government, media, and education.  All of this resulted in a ruthless Soviet-style internal police force. Cuban citizens suffer under this violent oppression until this very day.

Freedom loving Venezuelans, who are protesting and not only risking their lives, but too losing them, realize that their plight is against iron-fisted controls and power. But they do not want to be the heirs to Chavez’s legacy, a legacy of ruin and destruction, and a mysterious depletion of the nation's vast oil income and wealth. 

Today, under Maduro, Cuban state security apparatchiks and high ranking military officials are still present in key Venezuelan locations. Forces that have trained and staffed the Bolivarian security forces, and they reportedly yield a great deal of influence, power, and control.

These reckless revolutions, by the Castro brothers and Chavez, have brought misery to their homelands, with an ideology forcing extreme sacrifices. This while their personal goals have been to simply gain power and control, reach the country’s top position, stay there, and become wealthy men. And they have done just that.

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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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