By Beatrice E. Rangel
Isaac Asimov believed violence to be the last refuge of the incompetent. And reality seems to be stubbornly proving him right this week. Two recent CSI resembling episodes in our hemisphere have incompetence as the triggering factor of violence.
In Argentina, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has throughout her unending rule enacted the most economically destructive public policies. In a country where wealth is created by agriculture and with the land in private hands, the world wonders how long productive Argentineans can take such punishment. Particularly in light of the steadfast repetition of policies that have visibly disparaging results. The answer lies in the governing approach taken by the President to rule through fear when popularity withers away.
Indeed, Cristina has ruled the country with a heavy hand towards opponents which includes bullying tactics to bring middle classes to cold fear and resorting to un-official forces that spread terror all over the land. These forces are distinct and have specific tasks assigned. Piqueteros are violent protesters who play a dissuasive role. They promptly and punctually attend
any rally, march or celebratory event to make sure that citizens do not seize the moment to protest the ineptitude of their economic guidance. Should opposition political parties and/or civic movements dare to publicly protest, piqueteros will wedge their might against them using batons, fists, and stones to shut the protestors down.
There are also the soccer “barras bravas” or hooligans whose role besides violently supporting their favorite team is to perform the ‘dirty duties” of government. These duties include mobbing, robbing, kidnapping, and assaulting middle-to-low level leaders from opposing parties and NGOs.
For the last decade these two groups have exacted government justice with the support of intelligence services which provide them with information as to where to go and who to handle. So far this game plan had worked. But surprise seems to be the mother of history. It so happened that quarreling intelligence officers and lose barras bravas decided to get rid of Alberto Nisman, the Prosecutor investigating the 1994 terrorist attack on a Jewish cultural organization in which 85 were killed (Yes you read that correctly -- It happened in 1994 and to this date Argentinean law enforcement has failed to indict anyone for the largest terrorist attack in the Americas before 9/11).
Apparently Mr. Nisman had very interesting things to say to the world. Notably among those revelations were some chummy relations between the government of Argentina and that of Iran. For starters, Iran has been identified as the sponsoring state for the attack. And while probabilities are higher of finding the identity of London's Ripper than Mr. Nisman’s murderer in Argentina, the affair has so far proved to be costly for President Kirchner.
Opinion surveys record that about 80% of Argentineans believe the government to be responsible for the murder while 60% believe the President is somehow involved. In lame-duck overtime and with a world economy that fails to cooperate with populism, Mrs. Kirchner could perhaps be contemplating the same finale as president Alfonsin who relinquished six months of mandate in light of the economic crisis marking the end of his term. Indeed, discontent seems to be dooming Mrs. Kirchner’s plan to hand over power to a successor in a peaceful and timely manner in the land of San Martin .
Up north in Venezuela, President Maduro’s impassiveness on security issues triggered murderous violence among that revolutionary creation dubbed ”colectivos.” These are former criminal gangs consecrated by the government as “revolutionary committees” thus anointing the motorcycle gang leaders with the status of politicians. Their task had so far been to keep low income neighborhoods under control.
Last year, the government sent colectivos to middle class neighborhoods to play the role of the Angel of Death against the civil society supported student protests. Late last year, members of a colectivo decided to settle accounts with a congressman by means of sending him to the next world. The Minister of the Interior proceeded to send the police after the colectivo leaders involved in the murder and those colectivo leaders were despatched to the world beyond to keep the congressman company.
The colectivos then threatened to stage a violent protest and the Venezuelan President responded by firing the Minister of the Interior. President Maduro served the minister’s head on a silver tray to the colectivos as a means to have their support in case his unabated incompetence brings about active movements for regime change. The net result is that colectivos are part of government and the President is at ransom to their leadership. Should this arrangement lead to some kind of disagreement with the military, President Maduro could end sharing fate with his close southern ally. Violence indeed is a byproduct of incompetence. Also by Beatrice Rangel in her Latin America from 35,000 Feet seriesBeatrice Rangel: Holy Haberdashery!!! Is Fire Building Under the Surface in the Americas??
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Beatrice Rangel is President & CEO of the AMLA Consulting Group, which provides growth and partnership opportunities in US and Hispanic markets. AMLA identifies the best potential partner for businesses which are eager to exploit the growing buying power of the US Hispanic market and for US Corporations seeking to find investment partners in Latin America. Previously, she was Chief of Staff for Venezuela President Carlos Andres Perez as well as Chief Strategist for the Cisneros Group of Companies.
For her work throughout Latin America, Rangel has been honored with the Order of Merit of May from Argentina, the Condor of the Andes Order from Bolivia, the Bernardo O'Higgins Order by Chile, the Order of Boyaca from Colombia, and the National Order of Jose Matías Delgado from El Salvador.
You can follow her on twitter @BEPA2009 or contact her directly at BRangel@amlaconsulting.com.