This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, July 31, 2017:
The first order of business of the new “constituent assembly” voted unanimously into power on Sunday in Venezuela will be to exact retribution on President (now dictator) Nicolas Maduro’s enemies. Official installation takes place on Monday in the same palace where Maduro’s opposition won control overwhelmingly in 2015.
In a speech replete with attacks on the United States and President Donald Trump, Maduro (shown) engaged in political rhetoric designed to hide the truth of just what happened on Sunday:
A spokesperson for emperor Donald Trump said that they would not recognize the results of Venezuela’s constituent assembly election.
Why … should we care what Trump says? We care about what the sovereign people of Venezuela say.
Vast numbers of those “sovereign people of Venezuela” either stayed home on Sunday, or went into the streets to continue to protest against Maduro. Another 10 of them lost their lives, bringing the total casualties since April to 120.
The United States isn’t alone in condemning the sham and the fraud that took place on Sunday. Condemnation even came from countries with varying levels of totalitarian controls. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, Peru, and Spain all railed against the mockery of an election. As David Smilde, an analyst at the Washington Office on Latin America explained: “It will be hard for [Maduro’s Socialist Party] to look like a legitimate power.” In other words, Sunday’s mock election turned Maduro into a pariah.
The liquidation of Maduro’s enemies has begun. On Saturday evening, before the election had even taken place, Maduro pledged to go after his political foes with a vengeance. Referring to one of the most popular of his opponents, Freddy Guevara, Maduro shouted, “This little Hitler has his cell guaranteed.” Once fully installed, Maduro plans a systematic liquidation of all the rest of his opposition, starting with opposition mayors and those inhabiting the offices of opposition state governments and then reaching the members of the opposition party he just ousted on Sunday. This reflects Maduro’s promise back in May when he first announced his planned coup. He made clear then that he intended to use the unlimited powers Sunday’s election would give him, calling it “the election of a power that’s above and beyond every other. It’s the super power!” And, following Sunday’s election, it’s all his.
Still, there are opposition voices that haven’t yet been silenced, either through incarceration, intimidation, or assassination. Julio Borges, the president of the now-deposed but duly elected National Assembly, said on Sunday that “a new stage in the democratic struggle starts tomorrow. This new stage will need more courage.”
This voice was repeated by opposition party leader Henrique Capriles who said on Sunday, “As of tomorrow, a new stage of the struggle begins.”
Mary Anastasia O’Grady, a journalist with the Wall Street Journal, has been following the unfolding Venezuelan tragedy and states clearly exactly what that “new stage” is: civil war. She wrote on Sunday that “grass-roots faith and hope in a peaceful solution has been lost.” She added:
The [Maduro] regime has the armored vehicles, the high-powered rifles, and the SWAT gear. But the population has the numbers and the anger.
The opposition is also getting some support from an unexpected source: Maduro’s own police and military. Many have families back home that are starving, and have seen with their own eyes the indiscriminate attacks on protestors by Maduro’s forces. There are also the “judicial police,” which side with the opposition. Numbering around 12,000, they are Venezuela’s largest legitimate national police agency.
Not mentioned by the mainstream media is another factor in the Venezuelan tragedy playing out: the heavy influence of the Cuban regime in Maduro’s administration and military. Roberto Alverez Quinones, writing for the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba, reported on July 13 that in Venezuela there are almost 50 high-ranking Cuban military officers, 4,500 Cuban soldiers in nine battalions, and “34,000 doctors and health professionals with orders to defend the tyranny with arms.” He added: “Thousands of other Cubans hold key positions of the State, Government, military and repressive Venezuelan forces, in particular intelligence and counterintelligence services.”
So, following Sunday’s fraudulent election, the “new stage” is set. Protests will turn into violent conflict with Maduro’s Cuban-led military and police, with the ultimate outcome uncertain.