Maduro's Effort to Win the Election Relies on Abuse of Power

AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos

Socialist tyrant Nicolas Maduro has a new plan for overcoming his terrible poll numbers and winning the presidential election in July. The first part is to make himself appear younger and hipper.


“The younger generation doesn’t watch TV. We must innovate. All of you, leaders, take note and do it today,” the president, who is seeking a third term, said during a televised meeting on May 16...

The orders are just one facet of Maduro’s effort to inundate Venezuelans—particularly the country’s youth—with endless hours of content that attempts to transform him from one of the world’s most notorious despots into a harmless, charming and likable person. He has a three-hour-long variety show. A singing competition. An animated series. A podcast. Carpool-karaoke-style interviews. Viral TikToks. A WhatsApp channel...

Collaborations with influencers have earned some of Maduro’s posts more than 11.5 million views on TikTok, where comments from his 1.9 million subscribers often read: “I hate that I am laughing,” or the recurring: “I’m afraid that if I keep watching, I’ll start to like him.”

Here's a recent TikTok of Maduro pressing the flesh at a dirtbike rally.

@nicolasmadurom #NicoPirueta ♬ sonido original - Nicolás Maduro

Here's another one showing him hugging and taking pictures with a group of kids.

@nicolasmadurom Los niños y niñas siempre nos dibujan una sonrisa con sus ocurrencias. #nicolásmadurom #niñosyniñas #venezuela ♬ sonido original - Nicolás Maduro

At the same time he's out there playing the good guy, his minions make sure his opponents can't get on the air.

Machado has been barred from appearing on local TV stations or national radio stations, where hosts are warned against mentioning her or other opposition leaders by name. Doing so is punishable by sanctions or even expulsion from airwaves. Access to her party’s website is blocked within the country. At times, the venues where Machado holds meetings or speeches are later closed or audited by government authorities, she’s said. Signal blockers and power outages often interrupt her planned appearances.


NPR recently published a story about some of the other dirty tricks Maduro's government is using to prevent his opponent from campaigning.

When opposition leader Maria Corina Machado tried to visit the town of San Fernando de Apure, thugs on motorcycles loyal to President Nicolas Maduro blocked the only bridge connecting the town to the rest of Venezuela.

Machado took a boat across instead, but Maduro's thugs do their best to punish anyone who helps her. In this case, the confiscated the boat owners outboard motor.

Meanwhile, authorities are cracking down on anyone propping up the opposition. They have closed three hotels where Machado has stayed. They've confiscated sound systems used at her rallies. They even impounded the outboard motor of the boat captain who took her across the Apure River. However, such skullduggery has turned Machado into a kind of heroine while galvanizing the opposition.

For example, in the village of Corozo Pando, Machado's team stopped for breakfast at this roadside restaurant. Just a half hour later, tax authorities swooped in to close it down.

This is the socialist idea of a fair campaign. Fortunately, it hasn't been enough. Polls show the opposition is still leading by 20 points. It makes you wonder what Maduro will try next. His opponent, Edmundo Gonzalez Urrutia, is holding out hope that Maduro won't be able to cheat his way to victory.

“Fraud, vote rigging, and threats are nothing new for us,” Gonzalez told CNN En Español, “But we’re confident that on the day the opposition vote will be so massive our victory will be indisputable.”

His family is not so tranquil. “We are worried, no doubt,” Gonzalez’s daughter Mariana told CNN. “But we’re trying to live one day at a time, because if we start thinking of what could happen, this or that, we stop moving,” she said.


This is the same plan that Maria Machado had last year. The idea was that if she won the opposition referendum and campaigned for president, eventually Maduro would be embarrassed to keep her off the ballot. But it turned out Maduro wasn't embarrassed and did keep her off the ballot. Counting on Maduro to play fair and do the right thing is probably not going to work out well. The only thing you can really count on is that he will cheat and lie at every opportunity.

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