A president calls for elections and makes sure that he will win even if he has to resort to massive cheating.
The country’s economy is in tatters with runaway inflation that quickly drives the middle class and even some of the rich into poverty.
Divisions within the military threaten to spread to the citizenry, sparking possible civil war.
Does this scenario seem familiar?
It should. It happened in the Philippines in 1986, and it is happening now in Venezuela.
It should not be lost on most Filipinos and FilAms that what is happening now in the South American country is reminiscent of what happened in the our own Southeast Asian nation 33 years ago.
Just like the Philippines, Venezuela is ruled by a hated dictator, and there is a leader who is seen by the people as their savior. Nicolas Maduro may as well be the 21st century version of Ferdinand Marcos, while Juan Guaido is their own Aquino. It should have been Ninoy Aquino, but Marcos had him assassinated, so in his place rose his wife Cory Aquino.
The US took sides back then, and it is taking sides now. But while President Donald Trump not only recognized Guaido as interim president, he went further by threatening military action against the illegitimate regime of Maduro.
Back then, the US simply had a couple of fighter jets fly over Malacanang and Marcos got the message loud and clear. As the US envoy told the hated dictator, it was time to cut and to cut clean.
Maduro is not getting the message perhaps because he has been publicly backed by both Russia and China.
On Guaido’s side, on the other hand, besides President Trump are the leaders of the European Union and a host of other countries. Where sheer numbers alone are concerned, Maduro does not have anywhere near the international support that Guaido has.
As of this writing, the man who was handpicked by the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez to take his place is hanging tough. Unfortunately for him, the Venezuelan people no longer support Maduro because their economy had gone into free fall under his incompetent leadership.
If inflation in the Philippines was bad during the dying years of the Marcos dictatorship, inflation under Madurois much, much worse. It has become so bad that the average Venezuelan can no longer afford to keep body and soul together with the cost of food skyrocketing to the stratosphere.
Maduro’s mismanagement of the Venezuelan economy is a recipe for a disaster of the highest order. The irony of this is that Venezuela is the world’s biggest producer of oil.
A more competent and less corrupt leadership could have made Venezuela an economic powerhouse, not a tragic basket case.
The events happening in Caracas cannot end well for Maduro. The longer he stays, the harder life will be for all Venezuelans.
President Trump is absolutely right in calling for his exit, but he should think long and hard about taking any form of military intervention by the US. As was proven in the Philippines in 1986, there are many ways to skin a cat.
A strong, clear, undeniable message may be all that’s needed to convince Maduro to follow in the footsteps of Marcos. Maybe he can even be allowed to occupy that mansion in Hawaii that the Filipino dictator lived in to his dying day.