If you’re a socialist dictator whose country is suffering from hyperinflation leading to starvation and mass suffering, what do you do? The answer for Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro is that you maintain your grip on power by making sure the armed forces remain loyal. That has become increasingly difficult in Venezuela as the hunger has become a serious problem for everyone, including rank and file members of the military. Today the NY Times reports that the Maduro regime’s solution to this problem is torture:

“The abuse of military officers has grown because they represent a real threat for Maduro’s government,” said Gen. Manuel Cristopher Figuera, Venezuela’s former head of intelligence, who defected in April and spoke from the United States.

There are now 217 active and retired officers being held in Venezuelan jails, including 12 generals, according to the Coalition for Human Rights and Democracy, a Caracas-based nonprofit that represents several of the men.

The coalition has documented 250 cases of torture committed by Venezuelan security forces against military officers, their relatives and opposition activists since 2017. Many of the victims have spent years in jail without trial. Few have been convicted of crimes and most have not even been charged, according to the organization.

The weaker the government is, “the stronger is the torture against the people they consider dangerous,” said Ana Leonor Acosta, a lawyer with the coalition.

The story goes on to note that former President Hugo Chavez said in 2006, “The Socialist government has to be a humanist government, it can’t torture anyone.” As I pointed out before, Chavez also promised that Venezuela wouldn’t follow the tyrannical road traveled by the USSR. “No, we’re not going to fall into those same mistakes,” he said in 2008. Venezuelan socialism was going to be different.

A little over a decade later the socialist paradise has once again become a nightmare. Approximately four million people have fled the country and for those who remain, fear is the order of the day. The revolution always promises peace and equality but in the end, Democratic Socialism resorts to controlling people through the very real fear that the state will torture and murder them if they fail to toe the line.