Political disturbances in Caracas, Venezuela, lasting eight days, were apparently over Oct. 30. Smouldering wreckage?
Political disturbances in Caracas, Venezuela, lasting eight days, were apparently over Oct. 30. Smouldering wreckage and over-turned cars were to be seen in many parts of the capital. Crowds gathered in the streets to discuss the latest position, while President Romulo Betancourt and Dr. Villalba, leader of the second biggest party in Congress, met to review the crisis. Police and troops have been in action against groups described as "Left-wing revolutionary", and by Oct. 27 five people were reported killed and 20 injured.
Background to the political situation is the present economic crisis in oil-rich Venezuela: anxiety about the country's internal situation has caused a disastrous flight of foreign capital.
The coalition Government ran into difficulties Oct. 24 after the resignation of two ministers belonging to Villalba's URD (Democratic Republican Union) - one of the three major parties supporting the coalition. The party was reported as demanding more seats in the Cabinet.
A big issue dividing Venezuela is the question of Cuba, and rightly or wrongly it is widely believed that Cuban influences was behind much of the recent violence. Betancourt's former Foreign Minister resigned in protest against the Government's policy of not aligning itself with the Havana-Moscow axis.
This non-alignment policy - which came into the open at the recent meeting of the Organisation of American States - caused a big splinter group to go over to the Marxists from Betancourt's moderate Left Democratic Action party, and if Villalba now stays with the present Government, his own URD party faces a similar split.
President Betancourt recently (Oct. 26) accused the extreme left of adopting "Cuban methods", and said the country faced two risks if the present crisis continued: a return to a Jimenez-style dictatorship or a big attack by the extreme Left.