A once prospering middle class is now packing its bags and leaving Venezuela, fearing a future under the thumb of their Marxist leader, President Hugo Chavez.
Recently, he called on the impoverished masses to rise up and forcibly seize property and money from those better off. His slow purge of the middle class leaves professionals, business owners and shopkeepers facing the hostility of the poor whom the Marxist leader has encouraged in an effort to keep a majority of voters who are poor voting for him in future elections.
Hugo Chavez was elected in 1998 and since that time he has been actively encouraging hatred for those who have, among those who have not.
Many Venezuelans are complaining of the Chavez's control of the news media and his intimidation of those he views as opponents. Some Venezuelans report that their middle-class appearance results in beatings, robberies and kidnappings. Some complain that they are routinely spat on.
Caracas has always endured a crime problem, but during Chavez's reign of hatred, the city center has become seedier, with homeless people sleeping alongside piles of rotting rubbish by blackened walls. And crime is on the rise, with some accusing Chavez of encouraging more crime so he can initiate draconian policing measures.
Chavez, a former Venezuelan army paratrooper and close friend and ally of Cuban dictator Fidel Castor, has repeatedly said he will bring about a 21st-century socialist revolution. He regularly makes impassioned anti-American speeches to the cheers and applause of those poor whom he has yet to help.
Meanwhile, according to this writer's personal friends from Venezuela, the lines outside the foreign consulates resemble fans waiting on line outside a bookstore seeking Madonna's autograph on her latest children's book. But these people are running away from a communist thug who gets a free ride from the US and European news media because he shares their hatred for President George Bush.
Venezuelan passports are said to be in such demand that the Chavez government has rationed the number of requests per day, claiming that there's a shortage of passport-making materials. Some believe this is the first step in his preventing citizens from leaving the country.
Chavez's supporters seem as if they couldn't care less about the "great escape" of the middle class. They allege that many are leaving in order to avoid paying higher taxes to provide benefits for the poor.
Meanwhile during its internal unrest, Venezuela began training a vast army of civilian reserves to fight off the attack Hugo Chavez says the United States is plotting against it. The oil-rich country has as its goal the training of two million "volunteers," from the unemployed to office workers, shop assistants and housewives, basic military skills such as marching in step or shooting to kill.
If their reserve force reaches two million, it will become the largest civilian reserve army in the Americas, double the size of US armed services reserves. Its creation will undoubtedly inflame relations between the US and Chavez. He has warned repeatedly that the "imperialist enemy" will attempt to crush his socialist revolution in this enormous South American country, which supplies the US with 15 per cent of its oil.
At a military parade, President Hugo Chavez called on his people to prepare for war against the world's most powerful nation.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.