Tension is not unusual in this city.
By Juan Blanco Prada
The United States should stop meddling in Venezuela.
Since the death of President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela has gone through two elections. The ruling coalition led by Chavez's successor, President Nicolas Maduro, won both of them.
In April of 2013, Maduro won the presidency against the leader of the united opposition front, Henrique Capriles. The narrow margin of this victory, 1.6 percent of the vote, prompted a challenge by Capriles, but international observers certified the results as fair and clean.
In December, Venezuela held municipal elections. The opposition, boosted by a deteriorating economic situation, decided to turn the election into a plebiscite on Chavez's Bolivarian revolution.
To the consternation of the opposition leadership and supporters, the pro-government parties won a decisive victory, by a margin of 11 percent.
Reckoning that the electoral route was a dead end to achieve so-called regime change, the opposition abandoned constitutional means to achieve its goals.
Opposition parties and other groups funded by the United States have engaged in a campaign of violent protests, riots, street blockades and attacks on public facilities, with the stated purpose of forcing Maduro to resign.
The opposition leadership, led by people who were involved in the unsuccessful military coup against Chavez in 2002, are seeking to cause chaos to incite the government to increase repression, searching for a bloodbath that would justify an international intervention against the Venezuelan government.
Considering the fact that the Venezuelan administration still has the support of a majority of the population, and that even those who oppose it are not fully behind the violent strategy adopted by the openly anti-constitutional opposition, it is unlikely this could actually bring Maduro down.
President Obama should direct the State Department to end its support of organizations that aim at the unconstitutional and violent removal of a democratically elected government. Otherwise, he will have the dubious distinction of restoring Washington's reputation as a hemispheric bully.
Juan Blanco Prada writes on Latin American issues since 2002. He was an activist on homelessness, immigration and environmental issues in California, and currently lives in Ubatuba, Brazil.
Copyright Juan Blanco Prada