Conservative pundits and G.O.P. politicians are quick to point to Venezuela and its erstwhile President Hugo Chavez as the definitive example of the failure of socialism. The country has suffered years of rampant inflation and social unrest.
Under Chavez’s embattled successor, Nicolás Maduro, crime, inflation and poverty have increased. Maduro’s 2018 reelection is considered to be fraudulent. Several countries, including the United States, have refused to recognize his presidency. Russia and China support the Maduro government.
In 2017 Maduro set up the Fuerza de Acción Especial de la Policía Nacional Bolivariana (Special Actions Force), FAES. The federal paramilitary police force’s ostensible purpose was to “combat crime and terrorism,” and wrest control of poor neighborhoods from gang infestation.
The names of top commanders of Mr. Maduro’s special police force, and who exactly has been invited into its ranks are unknown. FAES units patrol Venezuela neighborhoods dressed in black, with balaclavas covering their faces, concealing identities. The forces are accused of breaking into homes without warrants, taking people into custody without charges and allegedly have killed dozens of people.
Here in Portland, street demonstrations, initially to protest police brutality of Black persons, have occurred every night for two months. Some opportunists, predominately young white males, have used the protests as background for looting, property damage and graffiti.
The current occupant of the White House grasping at anything to gain support for a failed presidency in the upcoming election, is following Maduro’s strategy. Federal “police” dressed in camouflage, with no identifiers other than “POLICE” have detained people and taken them away in unmarked vehicles, fired tear gas and shot peaceful demonstrators with “less-than-lethal” weaponry. Their purported purpose is to protect the federal buildings in downtown Portland. The secret police, untrained in crowd control, come from the Department of Homeland Security border patrol.
The COWH is doubling down on deploying secret police. “We’re going to have more federal law enforcement, that I can tell you,” he said. “In Portland, they’ve done a fantastic job.” And there will be more to come. “We’re not going to let New York, and Chicago, and Philadelphia and Detroit and Baltimore — and Oakland is a mess. We’re not going to let this happen in our country. All run by liberal Democrats.”