Let no one be deceived. The Chavez bureaucratic machine has stolen these elections from the Venezuelan people. Thinking about the future: Venezuelan government and military officials will continue to harbor, aid and abett Colombian guerrilla fighters, ahea of the proposed peace talks with the Colombian government. They will (I hope to be wrong) pretend a ceasefire as a gesture of good will, increase drug trafficking along the Arauca and Santander Colombian departments, and hide in Venezuela from a Colombian Army offensive, which President Santos has already announced in spite of the impending peace talks.
Clearly the elections were manipulated. Clearly the Chavistas never doubted they would remain in power.
But then again, it must be remembered that the memos commanding public servers to vote for Chavez per a special service bonus were very much real. It must be remembered that private enterprises and startups have been nationalized for years now, and hence many people had no choice but to serve the Chavez government against their wishes. It must be remembered that Venezuelans with means have been fleeing the country not out of treason, but out of lack of opportunities to make their businesses flourish.
These things were not happening mere 25 years ago, when the oil was still reporting real royalties and profits to Venezuela, and the autocratic and self serving machinery Chavez imposed on the country was not in full force. And let it not be forgotten that the greatest challenge Venezuela faces today is insecurity. Add to this the fact that Chavez is a military man, with wide support from the rebellious military, and that Putin also committed electoral fraud earlier this year in Russia, and you have the horrendous result that the violence in Venezuela is both sponsored and fostered by the government, as well as used as a control tool on people from lower classes, who also happen to be less politically educated and cannot see beyond free education for their youngest ones.
Is a civil war or civil unrest in the woodwork in Venezuela? Will there be a citizen uprising like the Arab Spring? No one knows. But I believe there ought to be. Though the pressure of having your loved ones threatened with death and disappearance weighs heavily on Venezuelans, the future of the country and the region as a whole must also be considered and weighed by everyone.
UPDATE: The list of 27 Venezuelan nationals who are being held captive by FARC comes at a very convenient time for the opposition, who after their sound defeat at the voting stations are trying to hit back at the government on security and social equality issues. Also, considering that Venezuela has long been a supporter of FARC and their subversive labor in Colombia, one must then weigh the possible consequences of playing hard ball with the government as they are now. Can public opinion shift? Can Venezuelan foreign policy change? Will there be more and better military offensives against FARC militants along the border with Colombia? Or will all this brawl end up in just another indignationoutburst?