[Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro] possesses, however, few of his predecessor’s resources, lacking not just oil revenue but Chávez’s surplus of charisma, humour and political skill. Maduro, unable to end the crisis, has increasingly sided with the privileged classes against the masses; his security forces are regularly dispatched into barrios to repress militants under the guise of fighting crime. Having lost its majority in Congress, the government, fearing it can’t win at the polls the way Chávez did, cancelled gubernatorial elections that had been set for December last year (though they now appear to be on again). Maduro has convened an assembly to write a new constitution, supposedly with the objective of institutionalising the power of social movements, though it is unlikely to lessen the country’s polarisation.
The State of the Nation address seems less defensive and more self-critical than any that came before. I was struck especially by this quote:
BACK TO TOP
Certainly, we cannot erase that which is ugly and repulsive and claim the happiness that comes with freedom if communities live in fear, closeted behind walls and barbed wire, ever anxious in their houses, on the streets and on our roads, unable freely to enjoy our public spaces. Obviously, we must continue and further intensify the struggle against crime.
While we have already surpassed that targeted figure of 152 000 police officers employed in the South African Police Service, and while we have improved the training programme, we recognise the fact that the impact of this is not yet high enough for everybody to feel a better sense of safety and security. While we have reduced the incidence of most contact crimes, the annual reduction rate with regard to such categories as robbery, assault and murder is still below the 7-10% that we had targeted. And the abuse of women and children continues at an unacceptable level.