In Venezuela, looking more and more like civil war

Two days ago, the death toll in Venezuela's gargantuan protests stood at three.  Now it's jumped to 20.

In absolute numbers, it's appalling.  But to some, it may not seem like much, given that Venezuela has one of the world's highest murder rates, or that millions and millions of people marched against the socialist regime, which has systematically shut down democracy and closed off all legitimate avenues for change by stripping the opposition-controlled legislature of power, corrupting the courts, and ruling by decree as poverty and narco-crime engulf the country.

The context tells another story – one of a growing civil war.  Protesters are fighting back, given their powerlessness before the country's institutions.  Grotesque violations of human rights and human decency are taking place, too – the kind that got Syria an air strike.  Chavistas tear-gassing a maternity ward in a hospital?  It happened, prompting the evacuation of more than 50 babies.  Then there are the barricades, the burning garbage, the tossed Molotov cocktails – all the work of the protesters.

Yes, we have seen giant demonstrations in Venezuela before.  But never with this level of violence, this continuous signaling of civil war, given that the Chavista side will never budge.  Several more days of protests are planned against the socialist regime's outrages.  The only question now is how bloody it gets.

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