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  HOME | Opinion (Click here for more)

Beatrice Rangel: The Government of Venezuela's Ochoa Moment
In the wake of the cold blooded killing of Venezuela patriot Oscar Perez, former Venezuela Presidential Chief of Staff Beatrice Rangel takes a look at the bloody policies of Venezuela's predecessor regimes in recent history, including Russia, China and Cuba.

By Beatrice E. Rangel

January the 15th of 2018 will be inscribed in history as the bloodiest day in Latin America.

That day seven members of the police rapid deployment squad of Venezuela were executed by government forces after being surrounded and have declared their desires to surrender, disarm and be tried.

The attack was perpetrated by what now we clearly see is Venezuela's defense forces: a military squad from the National Guard, a rapid deployment squad from the police, and a criminal gang.

These entities are run by the office of the President of Venezuela, regime political party PSUV head Diosdado Cabello who according to intelligence sources is the best smuggler Latin America has ever had, and General Ramiro Valdes the legendary Cuban terminator cum telecom expert.

The seven dissidents were attacked with Russian rocket propelled grenades, sprayed with a machine gun fire and finally executed with a shot to their heads -- all while they had agreed to surrender because of the presence of civilians in the home. Needless to record that a small group of civilians that happened to be in the premises were granted the same treatment.

The government of Venezuela broke the news to a horrified population indicating that the group had committed heinous crimes and that they had attacked government law enforcement agencies thereby forcing the violent engagement.

Its representatives and Mr Valdes, of course ignored that the country and the world had followed the saga minute by minute through the smart phone of the squad leader Oscar Perez, who televised the ordeal live until he was killed.

Besides revealing the contaminated structure of the law enforcement agencies in Venezuela, the episode is telling of the status quo of the government of Venezuela. And such status is disarray. A similar episode was confronted by other totalitarian regimes that have preceded that of Venezuela who's only differentiating attribute is that besides being totalitarian is penetrated by organized crime.

To be sure, the Perez execution corresponds to that phase in totalitarianism when economic chaos fragments the governing alliance.

In the USSR, as Lenin passed away and Stalin decided to destroy the springs of economic growth in his extermination of the Kulaks or small landowners that were the economic wellspring of Russia, economic collapse ensued. Dissent began to sprout all over and Stalin feared a coup d'état. He initiated the Great Purge from 1936 through 1938. Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevskii, the Red Army's top leader and strategist, succumbed to Stalin's purge in 1937 but the net was cast much wider as 30,000 army leaders were discharged from the ranks, thousands were arrested, and executions were widespread. In the end 20 million people were killed in the purge.

Mao Zedong also practiced these policies. After provoking the free fall of the Chinese economy with the forced collectivization and the Cultural Revolution when approximately 60 million people died Mao began to face dissent inside the Chinese Politburo. One would be leader of this discontent was the Minister of Defense Lin Biao. Lin died in a plane crash on September 13, 1971. The "Lin Biao incident" will never be clarified but his disgrace after death seems to give certainty to the hypothesis that he was flying with his family to escape death after he had led a botched coup d'état.

And finally ... there is Cuba.

On July 1989, the highly admired and revered Cuban hero of the African Campaign Arnaldo Ochoa was executed by a firing squad after having been summarily tried under the accusation of trafficking drugs. Ochoa was the sole soul that could amply fill the boots of Fidel should discontent continue to rise in the middle of the so called Special Period when the Soviet subsidy vanished.

Ochoa, of course was innocent of the charges, as has been revealed in Aida's Levy book The Cocaine King. Ms. Levy was the wife of Roberto Suarez the uncontestable capo of drug trade from Bolivia. She records in her book the day her husband sealed with the Castro brothers in Cuba an agreement to allow transshipments of drugs in Cuba to the tune of US$1 million per day. But Ochoa was the sole hope for a regime change. And that could not be allowed to happen.

While the Soviet Union, China and Cuba regimes carried on for several decades after they had their "Ochoa Moment", such fate seems to miss the Venezuelan regime. Because it seems to be evident that the spillover of the Venezuelan crisis in terms of refugees, economic decline, rise in violence and social disruption in neighboring countries will trigger some regional action at some point. But while the Perez extermination does show the weak face of the regime in Venezuela, it does not tell us how long this weakness will last. I, therefore, suspect that Mr Perez with his death might have cut the longevity of Venezuela's regime short. But, alas, we do not know by how many years.

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.

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