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February 26, 2014

Venezuela Erupts in Political Bloodshed

As attention has been focused on Ukraine, there’s trouble elsewhere.

At least 13 people have been killed in Venezuela in the country’s worst unrest in a decade. The anti-government protests that began earlier this month are motivated by demands for the release of previously detained protestors, a desire for a freer media, and, in some cases, calls for the resignation of President Nicolas Maduro, heir to the late socialist thug Hugo Chavez. Demonstrators are also protesting rampant insecurity, high inflation, and a shortage of basic food supplies.

The situation in Venezuela has been largely overshadowed while the protests in the Ukraine have taken the global center stage. The Wall Street Journal blames the silence of neighboring countries in part on their “ideological affinity with Venezuela’s leftist government and economic interests.” But media coverage in the U.S. has also been less than aggressive. In part, that’s because Maduro kicked out CNN journalists who were reporting for a time in Caracas, calling the coverage “war propaganda.”

Maduro has also accused the United States of backing an anti-government coup. Last week, Venezuela ousted three U.S. diplomats, and in response, this week the U.S. did the same to three Venezuelan diplomats. For its part, the White House has called for the Venezuelan government to release detained protesters and to engage in “meaningful dialogue with the Venezuelan people.” Whether such dialogue will happen remains doubtful. Even if it does, Maduro’s boasting of his plan to preserve Chavez’s legacy calls into question his sincerity to dialogue with anyone.

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