This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, March 20, 2019:
Despite the Trump administration ratcheting up sanctions against Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro, he remains firmly in control. Even his most dependable support from the slums — the barrios — is fading, and yet he remains the supreme authority. His exports of crude oil to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries has ended and yet he continues to rule. Recent sanctions applied to a Venezuela-based gold company were followed by the promise by the U.S. president of getting “a lot tougher” if necessary. Inflation has destroyed the bolivar, and still Maduro dominates the government he has illegally seized.
Many have blamed Maduro’ recent loss of popularity among the poor on the colectivos — motorcycle gangs of armed thugs trained and supplied by Cuba — that have invaded the barrios to quell incipient resistance and blatant opposition to Maduro with force and the threat of force.
In 2017, however, Maduro unleashed another arm of his military,