Showdown in Caracas

Matthew Vadum is an award-winning investigative reporter and the author of the book, "Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts Are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers."


ALeqM5givHJr1yRYOknak-IPl6Sxz0iE0AIn a move that almost guarantees violent clashes, Venezuela’s increasingly nervous Marxist caudillo is calling for his supporters to take to the streets Tuesday to combat a large planned march by that oil-rich nation’s opposition.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is asking his allies, including state employees, to demonstrate in force against Leopoldo Lopez, leader of the opposition party, Popular Will (Voluntad Popular). Lopez, who has been accused by Maduro of inciting violence, asked Venezuelans to dress in white and march alongside him, daring authorities to arrest him.

Opposition Governor Henrique Capriles, who was beaten by Maduro in the dubious April election, said the government was instigating the unrest to “hide the grave problems that the country is facing with the scarcity of food, medicine, the inflation, devaluation and insecurity.”

Demonstrations against the Maduro regime have become commonplace because socialist economic bungling has caused shortages of consumer goods, food, and medicine. People have good reason to be upset. Runaway inflation is destroying savings. Inflation more than doubled over the past 12 months, rising to 56.3 percent in January, the central bank reports. The bank’s scarcity index shot up to an unprecedented 28 percent, which means that at any given time more than one in four basic goods was out of stock.

Meanwhile, Lopez, who is now in hiding, vows to allow himself to be arrested.

“I’ve not committed any crime,” he said in a YouTube video. “If there is a decision to illegally jail me, I’ll be there.” Popular Will spokesman Carlos Vecchio said yesterday that the government is responsible for the protesters’ safety.

Security forces raided Popular Will’s headquarters yesterday.

“Four guys, dressed entirely in black, violently broke down the doors. They weren’t police; they weren’t National Guard,” volunteer Lisett Esteves was quoted as saying. “They asked for leaders of the party. Intelligence agents then came in with a warrant to take away all of our equipment.”

David Smolansky, mayor of El Hatillo, one of Caracas’ municipalities, was in the building during the raid. “They were looking for Leopoldo and all the leaders of our political party,” he said. “It’s more proof that in Venezuela we don’t have democracy.”

On Feb. 12, three people were killed and 66 injured when demonstrators fought with government supporters. Of the 99 individuals detained from Feb. 12 to 13, 13 are still in custody after judges deemed their actions “severe.” Student protesters are demanding that the detainees be free. Yesterday, for the sixth consecutive day hundreds of students in Caracas defied a presidential decree banning public demonstrations.

Maduro is the less colorful replacement for Hugo Chavez, a crude, erratic, neo-communist despot who officially died last March after seeking medical treatment from the quacks and bunglers of Cuba’s so-called health care system. When he actually departed this world is far from clear. Hidden away from the public for months, Chavez, whose election in 1999 sparked a leftist revival throughout Latin America, may have actually died some time ago.

Maduro can count on community organizers to come to his aid.

Government-linked community councils and “Bolivarian Circles,” similar to Cuba’s Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, remain active. In order to identify citizens worthy of governmental persecution, neighborhood-based militias spy on citizens. In true Sturmabteilung fashion, these groups also break up opposition meetings by force.

Like the roving paramilitary death squads that have been active in various Latin American countries, violent groups with no formal governmental ties are useful because they can do the regime’s dirty work, using force against opponents, and terrorizing the population, without directly implicating government officials.

Sounding somewhat like President Obama whining about Fox News, Maduro also claims international news outlets aren’t providing fair coverage of his attempt to seize absolute power. He ordered Colombian station NTN24 off the air in Venezuela for committing the sin of showing the bloody civil unrest produced by his socialist policies. On Feb. 13 he accused Agence France-Presse of manipulating information.

It’s all part of the politics of distraction, Venezuelan-style.

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  • Ted Kennedy

    Where’s Sean Penn when you really need him?

    • Silver Gonzales

      Sean Penn, Danny Glover, Robert Redford, Oliver Stone, Kevin Spacey, all busy erasing any mention of Venezuela on their websites. Who knows? Busy calling Bath house Barry a weak man and covering their tracks.

      The Question is where is the US in all of this? Bath house Barry is too busy making promises in California, playing golf, planning his summer get away, planning his 2014 December get away and the US media is focused on Hillary 2016, north east snow storms, Jimmy Fallon and stupid things as the West is in collapse mode.

      The world used to look at the US for some kind of moral direction., ever since D Day. Strange given the amount of lead dumped on Vietnam, Japan, etc.. but God Bless America.

      Those days are gone. Much of the world sees the USA as a place with cool laptops, fat people, good food, funny money, poverty, a morally corrupt political class, good coffee and morally corrupt bankers – sounds a lot like much of the world!!!

      American impotence in this as well as Egypt forming alliances with Russia while China and India gobble up the West’s gold, one can only imagine the bad future for our kids and grandkids. Is it Friday yet?

      • Ted Kennedy

        Poor Sean Penn! He just hasn’t been the same since Uncle Hugo died. Now he spends his days in a dimly lit room staring wistfully at a life-sized portrait of Hugo while Pete Seeger’s music plays in the background.

        • DB1954

          I think Penn takes great solace being held in the arms of that “elegant man” he so admires. Sniffff that’s so very sweet isn’t it?

        • Tim N

          Dude, it’s just the Venezuelans way of saying ‘hey bud, let’s party!’

  • Omar

    The people of Venezuela are rising up to overthrow the Cuban Communist-backed dictatorship ruling their country. By the way, Venezuela’s puppet dictator (who, by the way, is Colombian, not Venezuelan) did not win last April’s election. He stole the elections by resorting to all sorts of voter intimidation and fraud. Last week’s protests show that Venezuelans can take their country back from Communists. Let’s give the freedom-fighters our full support.

    • hiernonymous

      “By the way, Venezuela’s puppet dictator (who, by the way, is Colombian, not Venezuelan)…

      Is Caracas now part of Colombia? Or are you arguing that Maduro is not Venezuela’s puppet dictator?

      • Omar

        I am arguing that Maduro is not Venezuelan. He wasn’t born in Venezuela. He and his entire family is from Colombia. Maduro hasn’t shown any proof that he was born in Venezuela. According to the Venezuelan Constitution created by none other than Chavez, a person can only be considered a natural-born citizen of Venezuela if he/she was either born in the country or became a citizen of it by age 7. Since Maduro became a citizen of Venezuela at age 11 and he has not shown a copy of his birth certificate to the public, despite multiple requests from the opposition to do so, it is obvious that Maduro is ineligible to serve as Venezuela’s president. So, for the past year essentially, Venezuela is being ruled by a foreigner who stole the elections and takes orders from his puppeteers in Communist Cuba. Tell me how that is not an issue.

        • Silver Gonzales

          Nicolás Maduro was born on 23 November 1962 in Caracas, Venezuela, the son of a union leader.[3][4] He attended a public high school at the Liceo José Ávalos in El Valle, a working-class neighborhood on the western outskirts of Caracas.[5][4] His first introduction to politics was when he became a member of his high school’s student union.[3] Maduro was raised as a Roman Catholic, and his paternal family ancestry is of Sephardic Jewish origin.[6][7][8][9][10] – WIKIPEDIA

          Even if Maduro was born in Colombia, this is not the issue all due respect.

          Spiritually Maduro was re-born in Habana, Cuba. His close soldiers and guards are either Cuban born or Cuban trained plus the Hamas/ Fata/PLO guards he has. I know. I have seen them in Venezuela. They are scum.

          • Omar

            The Wikipedia article most likely quoted either Maduro himself or his Cuban Communist-backed regime. The fact is that Maduro never presented his birth certificate despite multiple requests from the democratic opposition to do so. Since he hasn’t presented his birth certificate, he is illegitimate. Maduro was born in the Colombian city of Cucuta in 1961. Again, you can’t fully trust Wikipedia, as anyone can edit that website’s articles. In addition, Wikipedia is dominated by the left, so there is bias in the article. Maduro became a Venezuelan citizen at age 11, and the cutoff age for acquisition of citizenship to be considered a natural-born citizen of Venezuela is 7. The point is that Maduro is a huge fraud. That’s the reality.

          • Silver Gonzales

            Even if Maduro was born in Colombia, this is not the issue all due respect. But I agree that Wiki cannot be trusted. It is the Walter Kronkite of on line info.

            But You are stressing irrelevant stuff. I know Cucuta, Barquisimeto,,,Americans who know little about Mundo Latino are not understanding you, He is a plant we all know that.

            Colombia is not the enemy. Spiritually Maduro was re-born in Habana, Cuba. His close soldiers and guards are either Cuban born or Cuban trained plus the Hamas/ Fata/PLO guards he has. I know. I have seen them in Venezuela. They are scum. They rape the female students. Friends of Oliver Stone, Sean Penn and all the Hollywood/Euro lefty scum.

      • Bacon_Crusader

        Pretty much the same thing that happened with Obama, regarding his birth certificate but Venezuelan-style. There’s dubious proof that he’s Venezuelan and it’s likely that he is actually Colombian

      • Nicholas

        The statement caught me flat footed.

        But note that Maduro has Jewish ancestry. I’ll just posit that Jews get around and maybe more intelligent and affluent than average. The dumb ones or the slow ones die in pogroms.

        “Maduro was raised as a Roman Catholic, and his paternal family ancestry is of Sephardic Jewish origin.”

        The Columbian charge was reported in Businessweek.

        http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-07-03/venezuela-birther-movement-questions-president-s-eligibility

        • Omar

          Maduro is not Jewish. He is just saying that he is Jewish in order to hide his rabid anti-Semitism. Remember that he considered it an “honor” that Israel expelled Venezuelan diplomats in response to Chavez expelling Israeli diplomats during the Israel-Hamas war in 2008-2009.

          • Nicholas

            So he lied. Wikipedia swallowed the lie.

            We can always test his DNA.

          • Omar

            Do not trust Wikipedia. Anyone can edit Wikipedia. In addition, Wikipedia is largely dominated by the left, so it is obvious that they will post Chavista propaganda in the page focusing on Maduro. The fact is that Maduro is a fraud and he knows it.

    • Bacon_Crusader

      Whoever is in charge will have to reduce spending because Venezuela is close to bankruptcy. Even if Maduro stole the elections or not, there’s only a good thing of him winning, He’ll be the one having to Eliminate the 12 Billion $ a Year fuel subsidy, further devalue the currency. In other words he’ll be forced to do those “neoliberal” measures that Hugo Chavez fought against in the first place before rising to power.

      • DB1954

        But what happens if he simply won’t do them?

        • Bacon_Crusader

          Maduro announced in December that the gasoline subsidy will be reduced but never said how much. The gasoline is so cheap there’s gasoline trafficking in the Colombian border. There’s someone who fills the tank for You and You usually give him more in tip than for the cost of gas.

          Then there’s the second problem, the debts Venezuela has with private companies and merchants is bigger than its international reserves.
          (Fixed Exchange Regime, the state supplies the dollars at a fixed rate for imports thus needs high international reserves)

          In other words Venezuela is running out of Dollars thus there will be more devaluations or so called painful reforms, Venezuela is one of the countries very likely to default alongside Argentina and Ukraine.
          http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-03/will-ukraine-s-riots-batter-a-star-bond-investor-.html

          The austerity will come from somewhere, even if it’s not gasoline, there’s no other way to solve that problem.

    • ebonystone

      Meanwhile in the U.S.: “America’s puppet dictator (who, by the way, is Kenyan, not American) did not win Nov. 2012′s election. He stole the elections by resorting to all sorts of voter intimidation and fraud.”
      Maybe Maduro is taking lessons from the Americans rather than the Cubans.
      At least the Venezuelans seem about ready to do something about their left-wing tyrant. Americans, not so much.

  • tickletik

    Remember folks, violence doesn’t solve anything!
    ;)

    • Rick

      Sometimes it does for good or for ill.

    • Drakken

      War in the end solves all things.

  • Guest

    Boys, it’s up to Israel now. We all have to throw our weight behind that country. If my brother Jews can find their balls fast enough, then they will become a beacon of freedom that all true men can rally behind, and we can work together to drive the darkness and the disease ridden demons back into the shadows where they belong. Otherwise, it will happen anyway, but with a lot more suffering.

    The main fight is taking place now, in hearts of the Jews in Israel.

  • A Z

    Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has to be a poster child for the Dunning–Kruger effect.

    • Omar

      He is not the rightful president of Venezuela. He not only stole the election from the rightful president (Henrique Capriles), but Maduro is not Venezuelan. He is Colombian. For the past year, Venezuela has been governed by an illegitimate leader who is also a puppet of Communist Cuba.

      • A Z

        I did not argue with you.

        I merely called Maduro a moron in an unconventional way.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning–Kruger_effect

        • Omar

          Sorry about that. I just can’t stand seeing people in the media and around the world refer to Maduro as Venezuela’s “president”. He is illegitimate. I’m sorry if my post above seemed like an argument.

  • WillyWallace

    The protesters sound like Tea Party counter-revolutionaries trying to get their country back from Communists. Name the similarities between Obama and Maduro/Chavez and their dictatorial rule but the main one is bribing and free handouts for votes. Then when they get into power, using Democratic institutions, they quickly dismantle those very institutions filling others with fellow revolutionaries. Any opposition is targeted by paid protesters and fronts of the Communist Party/Soros.

    Obama, and the Democrats, supported OWS even after rapes, robberies, vandalism in the million$, but imagine if the Tea Party did the same. Obama would legally call out the National Guard and they would arrest, and even kill, counter-revolutionaries to “save the country” and people would cheer him on since it’s now more taboo to be in the Tea Party than the Communist Party.

    Notice that in Venezuela, the Army hasn’t been used. Why? Because they might stage a coup instead. Imagine if Obama called out the National Guard and they refused orders to arrest “freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press?” Didn’t Occupy Wall Street go beyond that and Obama supported them?

    Why isn’t Obama doing anything in Venezuela? He’s supporting Maduro with his “I’m not going to meddle in another country’s internal affairs” which in Communist code is, “I support the Revolution.”

    • Omar

      Even then, the Communist puppet regime is accusing the State Department of taking part in the democratic uprising in Venezuela. The fact of the matter is that Maduro is a puppet of the Castro family dictatorship in Cuba. That is undeniable.

  • cacslewisfan

    I know so shamefully little about the spread of communism in South America. I do my best to educate myself now, but I’m coming from way behind. It infuriates me that my education consisted mostly of hysterical sobbing over “Red Baiting,” McCarthyism, and that horrible play “The Crucible.” No wonder Obama won twice.

  • DB1954

    Kill the ignorant bus-driver and his stormtroopers.

  • UCSPanther

    The glamor of the Venezuelan “Revolution” appears to be over.

  • Gamal

    I’ll bet paying off the loan from Russia for weapons is a big factor in oil rich Venezuela’s poverty.