Most of the force employed by starving Venezuelan protesters thus far has come in the form of hurled rocks or bottles as they battle well armed militia forces. Their game was stepped up considerably this week however when an aerial assault component was briefly added to the arsenal. A police officer who is sympathetic to the protesters stole a helicopter, armed himself with grenades and guns, and conducted a strafing run on the Supreme Court building. Needless to say, President Nicolas Maduro began to go into panic mode. (BBC)
Venezuela’s Supreme Court has been attacked by grenades dropped from a helicopter in what President Nicolás Maduro called a “terrorist attack”.
Footage on social media shows a police helicopter circling over the city before shots and a loud bang are heard.
The police officer said to have piloted the stolen aircraft issued a statement denouncing the “criminal government”.
President Maduro has faced months of mass protests amid a political and economic crisis.
The pilot didn’t manage to kill or even injure anyone at the “social event” taking place at the Supreme Court, but the message was clear. Maduro has a lot more than a few starving peasants with sticks and stones to deal with here. He’s calling it a “terrorist attack” and, by strict definitions, I suppose that’s fair. For the time being, Maduro is still in charge of the legitimate government of Venezuela (or the closest thing they have to a legitimate government, anyway) so an attack on the court building could indeed be considered a “terror attack.” But at the same time, it’s part of a concerted effort coming from inside the nation, not outside, to take down their own tyrant.
This came on the heels of incendiary remarks that Maduro made the previous evening, which John Sexton already wrote about here. But I wanted to touch on another part of that speech which didn’t receive quite as much attention. While everyone focused on Maduro’s threat to “use weapons” to fight his opponents in the event that his regime falls, he also had additional messages for President Donald Trump. He’s still trying to blame the United States for the unrest in the streets, but now he’s also attempting to scare Trump by promising a flood of refugees. (Reuters, emphasis added)
Maduro, who accuses Washington of backing his opponents and seeking to control the nation’s oil wealth, said the “destruction” of Venezuela would lead to a huge refugee wave dwarfing the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean.
“Listen, President Donald Trump,” he said.
“You would have to build 20 walls in the sea, a wall from Mississippi to Florida, from Florida to New York, it would be crazy … You have the responsibility: stop the madness of the violent Venezuelan right wing.”
Maduro may be a despotic tyrant, but he’s not stupid and he clearly pays attention to international news and is seeking ways to play foreign powers to his advantage. In only a few abbreviated sentences he attempted to ring the bells of the White House by touching on two significant talking points. He’s threatening a flood of refugees just as our President is taking a victory lap over his travel ban and closer scrutiny of any refugees seeking to enter America. And for the icing on the cake, Maduro threatens Trump with the need to build additional walls around the east coast and the Gulf of Mexico. It’s an obvious dig at the slow progress Trump has been making in getting the wall on the southern border started.
Part of what Maduro is saying may simply be bluster and rhetoric to inspire his remaining supporters, but I just get the feeling that he’s serious. While every sane person has doubtless been hoping that he would relent and hold elections which might see him out the door peacefully, I simply can’t see him doing it. I think Maduro will cling to power for as long as he can and then, if his people do manage to toss him out, he’ll make good on his promise to wage war on his own native soil to take it back.
And thus we return to our often repeated lesson which everyone should be taking away from the unfolding chaos in Venezuela. This is how socialism ends. This is how socialism always ends. We are now entering the phase of the game where the true face of the monster is revealed and we move from marching and chants to bullets and blood. God help all the citizens of Venezuela.