Matters seem to be coming to a head in Venezuela.

In late March, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice effectively took legislative power away from the National Assembly, and assumed that body’s powers for itself. The court in acting thus was striking out on behalf of Hugo Chavez’s chosen successor, President Maduro, against the opposition party Democratic Unity Roundtable, which held a majority of seats in said Assembly (112 out of 167). Indeed, this was a strike against the whole notion of a legitimate opposition to populist Chavismo.

On April 14, the opposition announced a “Grand March,” aiming to “overflow” Caracas with protestors from around the country.

They did that. The event came to be known as the “Mother of All Protests.” It took place on April 19: Some sources say that hundreds of thousands were on the streets of the capital city that day. Three people died in the chaos, including at least one of the authorities, a National Guardsman. More than 500 Venezuelans were arrested that day.

On June 27, a helicopter flew over the Supreme Court building with a banner on the side calling for Liberty. Gunfire was heard in the area of this building, and the Maduro administration attributed that gunfire to the helicopter. Thus, it said, there was a military rebellion under way and a crackdown was justified.

The following day, the Supreme Court froze the assets and banned the travel of one of Venezuela’s highest-ranking political opponents of President Maduro, Prosecutor General Luisa Ortega, who has denounced what she calls his “climate of terror.”

Left Wing View

Many on left also see Venezuela as a case study: but the case under study for them isn’t socialism, it is imperialism.

James Petras, a U.S. based socialist and sociology professor who was once an adviser to Chile President Salvador Allende wrote four years ago that U.S. relations with Venezuela have long been a good illustration of “the specific mechanisms with which an imperial power seeks to sustain client states and overthrow independent nationalist governments.”

From this point of view it is enough to know that Venezuela sits on top of a lot of oil, that the U.S. wants easy access to oil (presumably oil that does not have to pass through the Persian Gulf or travel around the horn of Africa on its way to U.S. refineries and automobiles is especially desired) to understand that U.S. meddling must be at fault.

From such a point of view, the Venezuelan opposition to Maduro is naturally painted in rather dubious or even villainous colors.  According to the most outspoken of the tweets along these lines, they are fascists, supported by Washington and its captive Corporate Media.

Right Wing View

All this seems a roadmap to a Final Battle, and a victory either of Chavismo for another generation, or for the opposition, and whatever new system they can create on the ruins of Chavismo.

On neither the right nor the left in U.S. politics is there any apparent appetite for intervention. But both sides see the turmoil in Venezuela as an example of what is wrong with … the other side. For the right, the story is all about socialism and the failure of central planning.

On the morning of July 2, Professor Steve Hanke (an economist with the Cato Institute, director of its Troubled Currencies Project) tweeted that the country had descended into chaos and that this was/is “undeniable proof that socialism does not work.”

Likewise, the Mises Wire, a web news service devoted to looking at the world through the eyes of the great Austrian economists of the mid 20th century, takes the long view. It has said that other countries with “crumbling welfare states and growing social discontent” have made themselves vulnerable to Chavismo, and to the consequent chaos.

From such a point of view the Venezuelan opposition to Maduro is naturally painted in heroic colors (there will be time for disillusionment later, if they win.)  A comment from the local press has been much retweeted, saying that the reactions of the authorities to the protests “are just desperate acts that do nothing but accelerate their fall.”

Also on July 2, the Digest Venezuela, a news service specifically devoted to following the “final days” of Chavismo, passed along the news to the English-speaking world that Maduro had just decorated 139 high-ranking military officers: in a closed high-security event. It did rather sound like a description of the back-slapping that may occur within a bunker under siege.

The View from the Vatican

On July 2, Pope Francis, the first Latin American pontiff in Church history, prayed in Saint Peter’ Square for “an end to violence and a peaceful and democratic solution to the crisis.”