It has already been an eventful year for a Western media dazzled by the Sturm und Drang of protest and revolution. In the first few months of 2014, it has occasionally paid to have monocular vision: protest-watchers have needed one eye for Ukraine and another for Venezuela.
One of the more sober commentators on the latter country is James Bosworth (@bloggingsbyboz
), director of analysis at Southern Pulse, a strategic advisory firm that focuses on security, economics and political risk in Latin America. Bosworth, who has been blogging since 2004 and using Twitter since 2009, is one of those rare and wonderful creatures: a commentator who can talk about a deeply polarising country like Venezuela without resorting to histrionics or hyperbole. He summarised the current situation for Crikey
"Venezuela has some of the highest levels of violent crime in the world and is facing a growing economic crisis that includes shortages and inflation. Those are the problems that are at the base of the protests and will remain for the foreseeable future, even if the current round of protests fizzles out," he said.
"The government's repression of the protests, including mass arrests of students, evidence of torture by state security forces and the use of violent pro-government paramilitary groups is taking its toll on President [Nicolas] Maduro's legitimacy and credibility. Even within the Chavistas, Maduro is seen as mismanaging the current crisis and the broader economic situation of the country. While a majority of the country may have voted for Chavez and Chavismo, they certainly didn't intend to sign up for Maduro's brand of incompetency. I think Maduro's first year failures on multiple fronts are going to haunt him for the rest of his time in office."