Since February of 2014, there have been protests of varying intensity in the oil-rich state of Venezuela against the government of Nicolas Maduro, whose insistence on following Chavismo, the socioeconomic policies of his predecessor Hugo Chavez, has left the country in ruins with Inflation on the Venezuelan Bolivar reaching as high as 1600 percent. Part of the reason for this plight is the fall in oil prices, which given that oil represents over 75% of Venezuela’s exports has had a devastating effect on the state. Rather than listening to protesters, however, President Maduro seems to have been taking advice out of the Dictators Handbook, both attempting to use the Venezuelan Supreme Court to shut down the National Assembly in a ruling in Late March (which was partly reversed due to criticism both internal and external) and blaming the protests on Western agitators, specifically from the United States. Beyond the bizarre behavior in that regard Maduro has recently done something far more dangerous than simply painting his domestic problems as foreign infiltration, he has decided to use Military Tribunals to jail protesters.
This tactic is not new in Latin America, military dictator of Chile Augusto Pinochet used this tactic frequently, slaughtering thousands of civilians during his sixteen-year reign from 1974-1990, Brazil too has experience with military violence used to maintain autocratic power from the late 1960s through the mid-1980s. Maduro also fired the Health Minister Antonieta Caporale who’s agency published statistics which among other gory and grizzly details show a 65% jump in maternal mortality and 30% uptick in infant mortality rate. With these horrifying statistics in mind, it is safe to say that even if Maduro’s grasp on power in Venezuela is not waning, although opposition remains optimistic of successfully removing him from power and given the detention of protesters possibly trying him for Human Rights Violations, death and destruction have become the norms in Venezuela with no signs of abatement in the short term.