Sabotage, which can be defined as the deliberate damage to property and equipment or as an action taken to undermine or destroy somebody’s efforts or achievements is usually practiced in wartime and against the country one is at war with. It is unusual to take such actions against one’s own country, particularly if you live there, but such is the case in Venezuela.
The situation would be analogous to having the officers on for example Christopher Columbus’ Ship drilling holes in the bottom of the boat while they were in the middle of the Atlantic because they disagreed with the route he was taking.
The individual acts of sabotage and the joint ones, from bad mouthing the country to all and sundry, publishing outright lies and half truths, highlighting crime as if it were something new, coldly targeting tourism and foreign investors with their negative campaign, to the engineered strikes by garbage collection companies and the deliberate running down of infrastructure such as roads by local municipalities, in an attempt to intensify the media message that things are worse than before, to the oil strike, and a myriad of other instances, have perhaps justifiably created a sabotage paranoia.
The cumulative effect of all this is slowly but surely taking its toll. But it does not stop there. The reaction to all this, following the laws of cause and effect, is also damaging.
Let us call it the bunker mentality.
Posts are being offered, not as they should be, with candidates being asked: can you do this job, and are you professional enough to separate politics from the economy but with the question: Are you with us?
What many do not realize is that though sabotage can cause a lot of harm, it is only the fear of or potential sabotage that we are talking about, not all employees or potential employees that are opposed to the government are willing to go so far, and there are legal instances that can be appealed to if such were the case. But giving the post to someone based on his or her political allegiance, rather than on his or her ability is effectively self-inflicted sabotage.
It is also further alienating a sector of the population that needs to be included rather than excluded if Venezuela is to move forward. Actions like this are pushing those who might be ready to or are beginning to reject the self-centered, self-interested all or nothing leadership of the Coordinadora Democratica*, back into their arms.
Foreign interference in Latin America goes way back. It is presumptuous, unhelpful, retrograde, destabilizing and on occasions deadly. It is unacceptable and yet it is something one should learn to live with.
Over emphasizing the effect of foreign interference, is counter-productive. The few million dollars that have been poured into the opposition coffers are a paltry sum. Any guidance in tactics and strategy, by personnel who are totally at sea when it comes to understanding Venezuela and its people, is not something to worry too much about. This meddling depends on local support, on the Coordinadora Democratica, who in turn depend on those it has managed to mesmerize and alarm. Without this last group, if a conscious effort is made to address their qualms, on which the others play on, the interventionists and the Coordinadora will peter out.
The bunker mentality plays into the hands of those who would ruin the country rather than lose privileges, it also plays into the hands of those who think that military and economic strength bestow moral superiority and that consequently their own interests supersede all others.
The real cost of sabotage includes both action and reaction. If Venezuela provides the expected reaction, then the sabotage may prove to be very costly indeed.
*The Coordinadora Democratica is a temporary grouping of failed political parties, discredited trade union leaders, shopkeepers, landowners, middle class interest groups and political wannabes. Its goal is to get rid of President Chavez by hook or by crook as soon as possible; it has the unstinting support of the private media.
Glen Forbes was born in Venezuela of Argentine parents of Scottish descent. He studied in the UK and now lives in Caracas, where he makes tourist maps of Venezuela and teaches English.