A while back, when I was writing about the jailing of Oswaldo Álvarez Paz, a reader who spends a lot of time in Petare wrote in to tell me that nobody in the barrios was talking about this.
I’m sure this was true. Little by little, jail has become established as a "normal" government response to dissent.
Now, with the government carting the nurses of the Concepción Palacios Maternity Hospital, Venezuela’s iconic maternity ward, off to jail for voicing discontent over working conditions, you start to see that, in fact, we are all Oswaldo Álvarez Pazes now.
Like him, the nurses were released on parole after spending time in jail. Like his, their freedom is now conditioned. Any further political unrest could land them right back in the slammer. Of course, the government’s media arm is out vilifying them already.
Every reversal is out in the open now. The kind of repression of labour rights that would’ve been simply politically impossible back when AD’s buró sindical was a real force in Venezuelan politics has become "normalized" under what bills itself as a workers’ government.
We talk a lot in this blog about government inefficiency, but the Bolivarian Revolution has accomplished something the heartless neoliberal autocracy that was the ancien regime couldn’t manage. It took the workers’ revolutionary government to criminalize independent labour organizing.
Where have you gone, Steve Ellner? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.