Scars, economic or human

The mother of Geraldine Moreno
The mother of Geraldine Moreno

Two in-depth articles today from the international press on the many scars left behind by chavismo.

In the New York Times, William Neuman talks to several people alleging human rights abuses in the recent wave of anti-government protests. You can tell from reading the piece that Neuman went in with a reporter’s healthy skepticism, but his chronicle leaves no doubt about the veracity of the tales. The money quote:

Mr. Gregory, who said he had been detained with 10 others, had gone to a protest here on Feb. 13 with friends Juan Carrasco, 21, and Jorge León, 25, but when they saw soldiers shooting tear gas and shotguns they ran back to Mr. León’s car. According to the men, soldiers surrounded the car, broke the windows and tossed a tear gas canister inside. Mr. Gregory said that a soldier fired a shotgun at him at close range while he sat in the passenger seat, hitting him in the arms and the back of the head.

The men said they were then pulled from the car and beaten viciously. At one point, Mr. Gregory said, a soldier smashed their hands with the butt of his shotgun, telling them it was punishment for protesters’ throwing rocks. The men said that the soldiers set fire to Mr. León’s car.

They were loaded into a truck with other detainees and driven to a National Guard post. One of the detainees, Oswaldo Torres, 25, a salesman in a brake shop, said that the soldiers pretended he was a soccer ball and kicked him over and over again. The men said they were handcuffed together, threatened with an attack dog, made to crouch for long periods, pepper sprayed and beaten.

Then, Bloomberg’s Anatoly Kurmanaev goes to the magical plains of Guárico to see where the government’s grandiose development plans for the region’s agriculture went. Quoting our own Anabella Abadí, Anatoly paints a stark picture of half-baked agricultural endeavours, generated on a whim by an autocrat with no regard for the basics of what each project required. The money quote:

“The president dies and the project dies with him,” Eumir Perez, William Lara’s former coordinator, said in an interview in Calabozo, a town in Guarico state 60 miles (97 kilometers) from the project. “The government is too busy staying in power, fighting against the capitalists’ economic war. No one dreams big anymore.”

“This is a technical problem, that our specialists are working to resolve,” Gil, 41, said in an interview in his Caracas office on April 10. “The project is advancing.”

Perez said construction began without checking water availability and now a dam would have to be dug to make the project viable.

Spokesmen for Maduro’s office and the Information Ministry declined to comment on project delays in Venezuela.

Kudos to Anatoly for actually getting a quote from a Minister. Double kudos from getting a critical quote from a chavista.

Both pieces are well worth a read.