Venezuela is an interesting test case. It's a country declining into dictatorship while still holding on to some basic democratic institutions.
That's what this is about.
Maduro's Socialist regime has been widely rejected by the public amidst unspeakable misery, starvation, food riots and lack of medicine. When the legislative elections didn't go his way, he used the judiciary to usurp the legislature. (Sound familiar?) And is moving on with a rewrite of the Constitution.
No official referendum was called, but the opposition decided to launch its own referendum in which over 7 million people voted. And 98 percent of them voted against the regime's unconstitutional plans.
Maduro obviously is treating the vote as non-binding, but it's an unmistakable political show of strength in which millions defied Maduro's Socialist terror.
Moments after thousands of people chanted "assassins, assassins"at several National Guard soldiers who were passing in front of the El Carmen church in Catia, unknown armed civilians attacked the voting centre located right beside the temple, killing Xiomara Scott, a 61-year-old nurse who was waiting to vote against Maduro's government.
"We heard a couple of explosions," said Willy McKey, 37, a writer who was escorting his mother to the voting centre in Catia.
"We thought at first it was some fireworks or something else. After all, an explosion there is anything but strange. Nevertheless, the second we turn at the Catia Theatre, we saw a mob of people … around what looked like a crime scene.
"Later, I learned that I was looking at the site were Xiomara, the neighbour, the friend of my aunt, got shot."
Four other people were wounded in the attack, and even Venezuelan Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino was forced to take refuge in the church along with hundreds of civilians, said parish priest Eric Tovar.
"This happened right in front of the National Guard and the police, and they did nothing to stop it," said Tovar.
Carlos Ocariz, who speaks for the opposition coalition, said that the attack was the deadliest suffered all day. But it was only one of almost 270 incidents reported by the opposition around the country.
Many of the voting stations had been located around churches. And this attack showed that the left would strike at churches.
Maduro has made it clear that he will cling to power at any cost. He's losing allies, but he has enough armed thugs to maintain the regime. Nobody has any great appetite for armed intervention. So that leaves an internal civil war which is bound to be ugly and which he, with his Obama-backed Cuban allies, is likely to win.
At least unless enough of the political power structure decide that he's a liability and that they need to reboot or eventually face a Mussolini scenario as public misery becomes even more unbearable.