"This war has only two possible endings — a new government or an emboldened old one with no restraints and no consequences."

The situation in Venezuela is dire. The father of one of my closest friends is in Venezuela, and we long ago fell out of contact, because he doesn't have electricity. Which, in addition to keeping him off Facebook, also means he has to walk up and down 13 flights of stairs to leave or access his flat. Where there is also often no running water.

He is a brilliant, charming, intensely lovable man, who used to be a professor. Now he sells American dollar bills to make money so he can eat. We used to chat by Skype, with my friend serving as interpreter, because I speak even less Spanish than he speaks English. When he would visit, we would have elaborate conversations via charades and laughter and hugs. Now I just worry about him a lot in a vacuum of communication.

It's very grim there. And it's probably going to get worse before it gets better.

Annika Hernroth-Rothstein at the Daily Beast: 'The Wise Are Running for Their Lives': Venezuela Simmers with Violence as Putin Sends in Russian Troops.
We're in the car, my bodyguard José and I, trying our best to make our way through a Caracas under complete blackout. The streets are eerily empty but as always here in Venezuela, the quiet is dangerous and José’s head is on a constant swivel, his almond eyes focused on everything but me.

The Russians have just arrived in Venezuela. Nicolás Maduro's Eastern ally sent tons of military equipment and two planes carrying at least 100 Russian troops to touch down at Caracas airport as tensions in this fractured country rise to the point of no return. Having seen the images of these foreign soldiers lining up at the airport, saluting their Venezuelan colleagues, José and I are discussing what comes next — not only for the country but for us, the team that has been working together for almost two months.

"If the war starts, we can't have you at a hotel, because the hotels will be some of the first targets for the regime and the Russians. We will move you into my house and we will have our base there for as long as this takes. But please, Annika, understand what I am saying — there will be bodies all over the streets, this war has only two possible endings — a new government or an emboldened old one with no restraints and no consequences."

...The arrival of the Russians means that Maduro is far from resigning to the opposition wave, but rather preparing for a showdown that will have many actors and many victims. The Russian soldiers may be few, at least for now, but they are bringing something more valuable than men — the skill-sets needed to fight a drawn-out war in the jungles of Venezuela. Because that is what will happen if war hits this country, despite any White House fantasies about a quick and clean operation that puts an end to the last socialist stronghold. A war would not be fought army to army, but rather army to army to paramilitary groups, Cuban operatives, FARC guerrillas, and Russian mercenaries.
There is much more at the link, and I hope you will take the time to read it.

There's a lot fighting for our attention and concern and compassion these days. Among those many things are the people of Venezuela. Spare some time and energy for them. Send some good thoughts their way. They need them. And much more than that.

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