Venezuela: What a slide into civil war looks like

"Civil war" is an easy term to fling around to exaggerate a problem.  But what do protester sieges on a Venezuelan air base and its supreme court sound like?

The Associated Press reports:

Young protesters broke down a metal fence guarding an air base in Caracas on Saturday before being repelled by security forces firing tear gas in another day of anti-government protests in Venezuela's capital.

Demonstrators threw stones, and some protesters were injured.

The clashes took place after a peaceful mass demonstration next to La Carlota base where a 22-year-old protester was killed this week when a national guardsman shot him in the chest at close range with rubber bullets.

Protesters also fought with security forces outside the base Friday, and activists burned some vehicles during the confrontation.

It follows news of this, from the London Daily Telegraph:

Anti-government protesters set fire to the supreme court in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday. 

This is the twelfth week of upset in the country, as protesters demand the resignation of president Nicolas Maduro and call for elections.

The dramatic pictures in the Telegraph tell the intensity of the story.

What we are seeing here is a country whose institutions are under siege.  Protesters are protesting the corrupting blur of socialism and rule-of-law institutions – and not just protesting about it, but attacking it.

It's not a full-blown civil war, but it's getting close to one.  It shows the frustration Venezuelans must feel at a non-accountable, non-coping government that represents no one but itself – and note that these Venezuelans have been protesting since at least 2002, when a coup d'état was launched against the late Hugo Chávez.  That's well before some of them were born.

It raises questions as to what the next protester takeover will be.  What happens when the protesters succeed in taking down a government institution – maybe the army, maybe the tax office?  At some point, they might do it.

After that, an avalanche of other institutions may go down, too.  It offers clues as to how the state of affairs may turn in the failed chavista state.  The protests have been boiling for years.  Now some are turning to takeovers of institutions, "laying siege."

If this becomes the full modus operandi of the protesters, it's pretty likely it will escalate into an openly declared war next.  These current acts seem to be a roadmap.

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