Headline March 14, 2017/ ''' VENEZUELA -STUDENTS- *VENEERS* '''



PHEW-....STUDENTS AND HEROES!........ Would Ya all believe that I had to  make  some  efforts to locate  Venezuela    on the   *World Students Society's*   Master Publication:

Sam Daily Times : *The Voice of The Voiceless*. But I am happy that this happened, as it got me to research the very latest happenings in Venezuela.. 

Now whats the next step on that?  Hussain? Vishnu/India? Toby/China? Reza/Canada?  Danyial/UK?  Tim/Newzealand?/  Harris/Australia? Jordan/US, Faizan/Pakistan/,  Dharmasena/Siri Lanka?  Or, maybe-

I just need to seek some help from Malala [Nobel Prize], Eman/LUMS, Ayesha/IBA, Tooba/Karachi University?    

I FIRST VISITED VENEZUELA in 1992, eight months after Hugo Chavez's failed coup d'etat. For sure, it was a very desolate period.

Not only was the economic crisis grinding at the spirits of the people, there was a sense that Venezuela's political elite was irremediably out of touch with the population, and doing what it could to prevent change.

I never considered myself a Chavez supporter   -I'm too much of a classical liberal for that. 

From the beginning I thought his style of social policy was unsustainable, his critique of liberal democracy simplistic, and his campaign against corruption misconceived.

But I greatly admired the ability of a  ''poor people's movement''  to use electoral democracy to turn the tables on Venezuelan society. Through 2012 the data is clear.

Poverty and inequality declined and people Chavismo with large electoral majorities.

I last visited Venezuela very recently, explains researcher and writer, David Smilde:

I was struck by how many people I have known for decades had suddenly lost weight. In normal circumstances, an adult dropping 20 to 30 pounds generates congratulations and admiration for exercising self-control.

But in the current context such weight loss prompts silence and quiet admiration for someone who is prioritizing their children/students  at mealtime.  

VENEZUELA IS NOT South Sudan, Haiti, or Aleppo. But is going through an acute economic crisis that it is entirely unnecessary.

The crisis is not caused by an imaginary economic war, or even even the dramatic drop in oil prices  -it already existed while oil was above $100 a barrel. It is caused by a set of obviously dysfunctional economic policies held in place by a government unwilling to change course.

Since March last year, the opposition has been pushing for a recall referendum, yes, a referendum against  Mr. Maduro   through a Kafkaesque series of requirements.

In September,   the government  controlled    Electoral Council finally announced  Oct 26 to 28 as the three day period in which the opposition could collect the 3.9 million signatures needed to call the referendum.

The catch was that instead of using the  14,000 voting centers it has at its disposal, the Electoral Council would open just 1,356, seven hours a day, closing at noon for one-hour lunch break.

But apparently even this limited access was too threatening. On Oct 20, the Electoral council indefinitely postponed the signature collection, on the most dubious of grounds.

The government appeared to fear the optics of hundreds of thousands Venezuelans being turned away from the voting centers, and the mass protests that could have generated.

Hence Chavismo has come full circle. From a government that showed how nonelite actors could use the instruments of electoral democracy to upend an entrenched elite preventing those same instruments from upending it.

This is not only a violation of Venezuela's  Constitution, it is the violation of the most basic human rights, the rights of people to choose their leaders.

The international community needs to respond vigorously but intelligently.. The United States government's unilateral, targeted sanctions put into effect in March 2015 have already done considerable damage to Venezuela's political process.

In theory, they are supposed to to discourage government officials from engaging in human rights abuses. 

In reality, not only do they provide the government with substance for its anti-imperialists rhetoric but they also create a cadre of officials who see their fate- as synonymous  with the government's and who will fight for it to the end. 

Indeed, Mr. Maduro has promoted most of those on the sanctions list and several in key security positions.  .

Effective international engagement must be multilateral, preferably working through existing institutions. 

While Venezuela has long dismissed the Organization of American States as an imperialist tool, Secretary General Luis Almagro's invocation of the Democratic Charter in June seriously got their attention.

That initiatives need to be taken up again. The Union of Southern Nations does not have the institutional strength the O.A.S. has, but it has the government's ear.

Any dialogue that occurs should not be seen as an alternative to the referendum but should focus primarily on restoring the  *people's right to choose their leaders*.

Debate regarding the economy, EDUCATION   and crime would serve only as a red herring for a government that is doing whatever it can to prevent change.

The World Students Society thanks Professor David Smilde, professor of sociology at Tulane University and a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America for this illuminating  work.

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of Venezuela and the world. See Ya all on  !WOW!  -the World Students Society and Twitter-!E-WOW!  -the Ecosystem 2011:

''' Full Circle !WOW! '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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