lunes, 10 de febrero de 2014

Venezuela: Where the Mafia and the Military come together, by Fermin Lares CDDA Senior Fellow

For the Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, the murder of a former beauty queen wasn't so much a tragedy as an opportunity.
At the National Press Club, CDDA organized
a panel to discuss organized crime in Venezuela

On January 6, Monica Spear, who won the 2004 Miss Venezuela beauty contest and later became one of the country's most popular actresses, was traveling with her partner and their five year old daughter along a highway in Carabobo state. As they waited for assistance after their car broke down, a group of armed robbers descended on them. As is the custom with Venezuelan criminals, who are reluctant to leave witnesses behind, both Ms. Spear and her partner, Thomas Berry, were shot dead, while their little girl was wounded in the leg.
The sad reality of Venezuela today is that impunity reigns, from gangland executions in poor neighborhoods all the way up to military leaders running private operations with public money.
- Fermín Lares
Although Venezuelans have become accustomed to violent crime – at an annual average of 79 per 100,000, the country has the world's highest homicide rate after Honduras – the horrific murders in Carabobo, involving as they did a much-loved celebrity and her family, convulsed the entire nation in shock. Enter Maduro, who loudly declared that he would use an "iron fist" against Venezuelan criminals.

Sure enough, within days of the killings, seven men said to belong to a gang known as "Los sanguinarios del Cambur"  ("The bloodthirsty ones of Cambur") were in custody. But if Maduro was expecting plaudits from a country whose citizens are even more fiercely divided than during the rule of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, he must have been sorely disappointed. The swift response of the authorities in the Monica Spear case was a stark contrast to the thousands of other murders – there were a total of 24,763 murders in 2013 alone, according to the independent Venezuelan Observatory of Violence (OVV) – that are seldom investigated or resolved.
To the casual observer, it is not immediately clear how the various strands that compose Venezuela's current economic and political crisis relate to this fundamental breakdown of law and order. What therefore needs to be understood is that, after 15 years of Chavista misrule, the Venezuelan state is not an enemy of the criminal networks that have conquered the country, but their ally.

lunes, 20 de enero de 2014

Venezuela Developments, January 2014

Our Venezuela Developments Newsletters for January 2014 brings very interesting analysis and information this month. An Editorial by our President Leopoldo Martinez, discusses the post December Municipal Election implications and outlook:
 "... the inevitable recognition of this electoral result by the MUD helps PSUV to move forward with a “varnish of legitimacy”, particularly because the opposition had no other choice than to energize electoral participation by engaging in this municipal election with a national campaign against Maduro that was somehow portrait as a referendum on his presidency. 

However, PSUV not only lost the most important capital cities in Venezuela, it had set backs in symbolic capitals regained by the opposition such as Barinas, the capital of the State of Barinas, which is Chavez homeland and where the governor is the brother of the late president. 

This reality has imposed on the government the need to promote a political dialogue with the opposition, and to that the MUD (through its parliamentary fraction and newly elected majors) has engaged. The Dialogue sessions were a great window for the opposition to broadcast its message across the nation, while advocating an agenda focused on the two greater problems Venezuela now faces: Security and the Economy; and for which Maduro and his cabinet have shown lack of initiative and ideas..."
Complementing such analysis, a report by our Fellows from Polinomics shows  that Venezuelans Support Price Control Measures, brings some key numbers for an assessment of the public opinion climate: 
70% approve Maduro's price control measures.
49% reject Government's plan to increase gas prices. 
80% reject a new devaluation. 
63% still see Henrique Capriles as Venezuela's opposition leader.