Socialist President Nicolas Maduro is under a lot of pressure. With triple-digit inflation, months of protests resulting in more than 80 dead, and demands he allow elections to resume he must be spending a great deal of time thinking about the end of his own disastrous regime. Monday Maduro spoke at a rally designed to support his illegal plan to rewrite the country’s constitution (as a way to avoid elections). The president said that if he was removed from office, his supporters would fight to “liberate the fatherland.” From the Guardian:
“If Venezuela was plunged into chaos and violence and the Bolivarian Revolution destroyed, we would go to combat. We would never give up, and what we failed to achieve with votes, we would do with weapons. We would liberate the fatherland with weapons.”
His comments, which were broadcast live to the country, came amid reports of one of the worst outbreaks of looting in three months of deadly protests. Some 68 businesses, including supermarkets, liquor stores, bakeries and food shops were ransacked in a wave of lawlessness that began Monday night in the city of Maracay, 100km west of Caracas, and continued well into Tuesday afternoon.
When Maduro says he and his followers would “liberate” the country with weapons, he means they would kill everyone who removed him from office. That’s something that his police and military have already gotten a start on in the past several months, with the death toll now above eighty.
As for the looting, the government is blaming the protesters, but the Associated Press reports it may not be that simple:
The pro-Maduro governor of Aragua state, of which Maracay is the capital, said the looting hit supermarkets, drug stores and small bakeries and liquor stores…
[Gov. Caryl] Bertho blamed protesters for the looting, but opposition activists say gangs of men on motorcycles looted without interference from authorities. Such groups are often government supporters.
Remember, what the protesters are demanding is elections. Regional elections should have taken place last year and the opposition filed paperwork for a legal referendum that could have removed Maduro from office but the socialists blocked it. Maduro announced his plan to rewrite the constitution as a way to claim he was open to change without allowing the socialist party to lose any power in the process. Now he’s literally threatening to murder anyone who deposes him.
It won’t be enough.
If these protests were driven solely by ideology, perhaps his plan would work, but they are driven by the government’s obvious and ongoing ineptitude. When the majority of people can no longer afford or find enough food to make three meals a day, they tend to want a change in management. One way or another, they are going to get it.
Earlier today, German news outlet Deutsche Welle published a 30-minute video on the situation in Venezuela: