Venezuela Announces Martial Law In Border State, Dispatches 1500 Soldiers

While Venezuela's collapse to a socialist singularity best defined by total economic devastation has been chronicled extensively here over the years...

... to the point where neither the country's hyperinflation, nor the total collapse of its currency...


... nor its return to a barter economy, nor even the fact that it has run out of condoms, fake breasts, or beer engender much of a reaction, perhaps the only thing readers seem attuned to is when will the social implosion lead to renewed political tensions which will likely result in another violent political overthrow, one which may or may not involve the local military.

Today Venezuela took a step in that direction when its president Maduro declared a state of emergency in a border region near Colombia following an attack by smugglers in which three soldiers and a civilian were injured, resulting in 60 days of martial law in five municipalities of the state of Tachira. He also said the closure of the border, announced on Thursday, will be extended until further notice.

Petrol and food smugglers have increasingly clashed with officers. According to the BBC, Maduro said Colombian paramilitary groups regularly travel to Venezuela, generating chaos and shortages in order to destabilise the revolution.

Many are openly speculating that the official explanation is bogus, and Maduro merely wants a pretext to deploy the army first to one state in which social tensions have led to violence and death as a test, then everywhere else where anti-government sentiment is on the rise.

Maduro said an extra 1,500 soldiers had arrived to reinforce the area. "This decree provides ample power to civil and military authorities to restore peace," he said in a broadcast on state television.

It also empowers the local army to deal with the population as it sees fit, and in general to confirm that Venezuela society is rapidly spiraling out of control.

On Wednesday, three Venezuelan army officers and a civilian were injured in riots with Colombian smugglers.

Venezuela closed its border with Colombia for the first time last year.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has criticised the move. Mr Santos said ordinary people on both sides of the border, including children, would suffer the most.  "If we co-operate, the only ones to lose are the criminals, but if the border is closed, there is no co-ordination and the only ones to gain are the criminals," said Mr Santos.

Tensions run high along the porous 2,200-kilometre (1,370-mile) border.

And unless the price of oil somehow rebounds, Venezuela, whose economy is entirely dependent on oil exports, will surely see tensions migrate to the capital Caracas, where a far more violent ending is assured, as well as the country's inevitable default. Recall as of a few weeks ago, according to the CDS market VENZ was determined to be the state most likely to default in the coming months.

Perhaps at this point the question is not whether Maduro will lose control - he will - but which US-baked banking interests will step in to wrest control of the Venezuelan oil industry from the state, and just how will this be implemented?